Rich Howells

Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade reverses decision and postpones 59th annual parade

Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade reverses decision and postpones 59th annual parade
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Less than two days after the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade Association declared that the 59th annual parade will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, March 14, the parade has now been postponed due to concerns surrounding the spread of coronavirus.

The new statement released within the last hour reads:

In light of new developments with the spread of the COVID-19 virus here on the East Coast and mindful of recent parade cancellations in Philadelphia, Boston, and Ireland, the Saint Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County has decided to postpone the 2020 parade in Scranton. As conversations continue with officials from the city of Scranton, all agree that the safety and well-being of our community is of primary concern.

Scranton’s parade is one of the largest in the country and historically draws scores of visitors from far and wide, so we simply want to avoid exposing our community to additional risk at this time. While this decision is disappointing, we are acting with a general concern for the well-being of everyone. In the coming weeks, we pray that the COVID-19 virus will run its course and when we are confident that all is clear, we will enthusiastically plan a new 2020 date for the Saint Patrick’s Parade in downtown Scranton. Stay tuned!

Scranton boasts that it has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country (for cities with a population over 50,000), with over 12,000 participants and about 100,000 spectators annually. Local bars are typically packed with thousands of partiers who start early early in the morning and drink long into the night. Whether or not these bars will cancel their own festivities will be up to the business’ discretion.

Yesterday, Friends of the Poor decided to postpone their annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner at St. Mary’s Center in Scranton on March 17 and plan to reschedule for a later date. Within an hour of the Parade Association’s announcement today, the Scranton Cultural Center canceled its Parade Day Party as well with the following statement:

In light of the postponement of the downtown Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we will be postponing our St. Patrick’s Parade Day Party. We look forward to sharing this day with our patrons each year but understand the importance of the health, safety, and overall well-being of all of Northeast PA.

As of now, we are intending to proceed with all other events as planned, but we will continue to monitor the situation locally, throughout the region, and around the state and will take whatever actions we deem in the best interests of our patrons, our staff, and the community as a whole.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak of this respiratory disease was caused by a new “coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named ‘SARS-CoV-2,’ and the disease it causes has been named ‘coronavirus disease 2019’ (abbreviated ‘COVID-19’).” By Jan. 30, 2020, it was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization, and the following day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared it a public health emergency for the United States. So far, there are currently 938 cases in the United States that have caused a total of 29 deaths.

While Lackawanna County has not yet been affected by the coronavirus, as of today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported that there are 13 presumptive positive cases and two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania – nine in Montgomery County, two in Bucks County, and one reported case each in Philadelphia, Delaware, Monroe, and Wayne counties.

When the first two cases were detected in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf held a press conference on March 6 and signed an emergency disaster declaration to increase support to state agencies responding to COVID-19.

Two days ago, Wolf announced that “all major health insurers providing comprehensive medical coverage in the commonwealth will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing.”

“First and foremost, the commonwealth is prepared for and focused on mitigating COVID-19 in our state,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania insurers proactively waiving costs associated with COVID-19 testing for consumers helps the commonwealth identify additional cases and gives us a better opportunity to increase our resources appropriately and better protect all Pennsylvanians. No Pennsylvanian should forego testing for any reason, if deemed medically necessary, including fear of what it might cost.”

Yesterday, the governor added that the “Pennsylvania Insurance Department, in collaboration with the Department of Health, is submitting for publication a notice to the Pennsylvania Bulletin outlining proactive steps and recommendations for consumers and major health insurers to help mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.”

“The commonwealth remains laser-focused on mitigation of COVID-19,” Wolf stated. “Posting these recommendations for health insurers further reinforces our commitment to making sure all Pennsylvanians have the health care they need during this uncertain time.”

To avoid contracting the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, public health officials are encouraging people to regularly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow, and avoid touching their face. Those who are showing symptoms like a fever, cough, and shortness of breath are encouraged to stay home and contact their doctor by phone to avoid exposing others.

Photo by Scott Kucharski Photography/NEPA Scene