Mayor Hancock says St. Patrick’s Day Parade is still on despite coronavirus concerns

But the city is asking restaurants to put up signs reminding you to wash your damn hands. It’s also partially opening its emergency response center.

Qhaswa Peru performers skip in the parade. St. Patrick's Day celebration, March 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Qhaswa Peru performers skip in the parade. St. Patrick's Day celebration, March 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Update, Tuesday, March 10: The mayor and parade organizers announced on March 10 that the parade has been cancelled. Find more information here.

Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday said he doesn’t plan on discouraging big public gatherings in the city due to ongoing concerns over the new coronavirus, though the city has partially opened its emergency operation center to help coordinate its response.

Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said there are no new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Denver.  The city confirmed there were two cases last week, including a man in his 40s and a woman in her 70s. McDonald said people got the virus outside Colorado.

Hancock said there are eight people in quarantine in the city. He stressed the city is still in full operation and his own public schedule hasn’t changed. He said he believes most people are taking common-sense steps to prevent the diseases’ spread.

“We talked about in the first press conference making sure we don’t panic, and I thought about it this weekend, all that’s going on around the globe, and this city still hosted thousands of people,” Hancock said, mentioning Oprah Winfrey’s visit on Saturday and a volleyball tournament in Denver this week.

Hancock said he’s not planning on calling off the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday and says organizers support his decision. Hancock and McDonald have broad authority to block the use of public spaces.

“We encourage folks who are not feeling well this weekend, if you’re planning and hoping to attend St. Patrick’s Day festivities, stay home if you’re not doing well,” Hancock said.

Elizabeth Price, a spokesperson for the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, said in an email they are monitoring the situation. She suggested using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prevention guidelines when considering whether to attend.

“It is an outdoor 4-hour event with a local attendee base so the risk is still considered to be small,” Price said in the email.

Executive Director of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Mueller said partially opening the emergency operation center brings together the city’s resources to help coordinate the city’s numerous departments, agencies and partners. It also helps keep tabs on resources.

Mueller said the center will be open indefinitely.

The city’s health department is issuing an order for restaurants to post public health rules on hand-washing in their dining rooms. They’re asking other places like hotels to post signs to remind people to wash their hands.

He added that he plans on meeting with hospitals, hotels and schools this week to go over their response plans. He said he’s also keeping the city’s “economic health” in mind.

Colorado has nine presumptive COVID-19 positive cases, with the latest announced Monday. A release from the state’s public health office said the person is a woman in her 50s from Larimer County who has been diagnosed with pneumonia.

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