Mayor Johnson: Final decision on whether to cancel St. Patrick’s Day festival, parade in next 24-48 hours

A previous St. Patrick's Day Festival on River Street.
A previous St. Patrick's Day Festival on River Street.(WTOC)
Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 12:40 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The mayor said the city will make a final decision on whether to cancel the festival and parade in the next 24-48 hours. He and others are talking to the state Department of Public Health, the governor, the CDC, and epidemiologists about what to do.

He said any decision will be made in the best interest of the city and people coming into town, not fear or paranoia nor a "hunch of a single person."

“I think our primary role should be to do what’s best in the public safety of our residents. To that end, we can’t live in fear. We can’t lead in fear," Johnson told WTOC. “I just think that’s the most prudent way to go to make sure that we’re not taking a knee-jerk approach or we’re not doing something because someone else is. We’re doing it based on data that’s specific to Savannah, specific to Georgia, by those who have been charged to research and provide us those recommendations."

Johnson said if the city gets a recommendation from anyone involved in the decision at a higher level, the city will follow that recommendation. Right now, there is no state of emergency in Georgia; there is also no travel ban in the state.

Because of that, Johnson said people will still come, so there would need to be a means to control the crowds and make sure people are safe; that's a factor city leaders are keeping in mind, according to Johnson.

Johnson is monitoring the decisions from the city of New York and Chicago on their parades as well.

Please be advised, at this point in time, of Savannah’s current status as it relates to the coronavirus, COVID-19 and...

Posted by Mayor Van Johnson on Monday, March 9, 2020

On his Facebook page, Johnson said there are currently no confirmed cases in Chatham County, and that schools and government are operating on a regular schedule.

"Over the next few days, we will receive additional briefings from the Department of Public Health. Should their recommendations change, we will be prepared to act accordingly. These decisions will be based on the recommendations of our medical/public health partners and on the best interests of our community, " he said on Facebook.

Visit Savannah said the agency has not seen any more cancellations than normal in the Chatham County area. A spokesperson added that, “everyone in town is encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for keeping healthy and take the same precautions to avoid illness that they would take at home.”

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