CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This weekend, thousands will prepare to flood the streets of uptown Charlotte for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as well as the 20th Annual Rich & Bennett’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl.
So far, these events are set to go on as usual.
Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina after there were seven presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus throughout the state.
Gov. Cooper and his team of state health experts advised people at high risk — including those 65 years and older, with pre-existing chronic conditions or a weakened immune — to avoid mass travel and large gatherings.
“We know there are more cases out there which is why we are stepping up our activities right now and want people to take this seriously,’ said Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl say they are indeed taking the coronavirus threat seriously, but add the event should go on as planned.
Representatives tell WCNC Charlotte they have requested additional hand washing and sanitizing stations at check-in and throughout participating bars.
At last check, city officials who issue the permits for the parade say that event will also go on as planned, but they are continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation across the state and the country.
“We want to make sure we are taking the appropriate steps early to do as much containment as we can,” Cohen said.
If you would like to request a refund for the pub crawl you can do so by no later than Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m.
Neither the CDC nor the Mecklenburg Health Department has advised canceling events.
However, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority is taking additional steps to protect visitors: adding additional housekeeping staff, increasing the number of sanitizing stations, and cleaning high-touch areas more frequently.
The CRVA has even brought an infection control expert on to inspect facilities.
Meantime, at the Charlotte Convention Center, it's business as usual.
"Everyone knows it's a serious time and it's better to be safe than sorry, but there's really no need for the hysteria in my opinion," said Shawn McAteer, who was visiting Charlotte for the National Business Aviation Association convention.
McAteer said attendees are continuing on as planned, just being aware of good practices and hygiene.
Matt Fileta, another NBAA attendee, noticed a lighter turnout for the convention, noting that some colleagues were set to attend, then backed out.
He says coronavirus concerns did weigh in the back of his mind.
"On my way here, I was sitting between two people, and both of them were sneezing and coughing the whole time and that scared me," said Fileta.
However, he said he had no thoughts of avoiding any festivities, but rather tailoring habits to suit the climate.