Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that St. Patrick’s Day parades across Chicago are postponed due to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. 

Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent days mulling over whether Saturday’s downtown parade, Sunday’s South Side Irish parade and a small Northwest Side parade should go on. 

The decision wasn’t an easy one, Lightfoot said, but it’s the best decision to keep the larger Chicago community healthy.

“God forbid we see a spread or spike based on this public event,” Lightfoot said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“We’ll be talking to other folks who are hosting events this weekend,” she said. “We’re trying to be as comprehensive as we can.”

As of Wednesday morning, there are 19 cases of COVID-19 within Illinois. According to the city of Chicago website, eight of those cases were identified on March 10. At least one of the 19 cases acquired the virus through community spreading, officials said, as this person hadn’t traveled out of the country recently or been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“This was the right call,” Pritzker said about postponing the parades.

He said the state has reached a stage where there are new cases of the coronavirus regularly, though, no new cases were announced at Wednesday morning’s press conference. Officials will have a daily 2 p.m. press conference to update the public on the virus, Pritzker said.

“First and most important, we need everyone in Chicago and in Illinois to stay home if you are sick,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“If you are sick, please leave your home only to receive urgent medical care,” Arwady added.

Stay tuned for more updates.