CHICAGO -- Chicago postponed its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade as well as the dyeing of the Chicago River green, officials announced Wednesday.
The parade and river dyeing were set to take place on Saturday. In addition, neighborhood St. Patrick's Day parades in the city have also been canceled.
The festivities bring thousands of people to downtown Chicago every year, but concerns about spreading COVID-19 have led to the postponement. As of Wednesday morning, Illinois has reported 19 cases of COVID-19.
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"The health and safety of Chicago's residents will always be our highest priority and like many other cities across the nation and globe, we are postponing this year's parade as a precautionary measure to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "I want everyone to rest assured that your City and State continue to work around the clock to stay ahead of this issue and ensure everyone remains protected, informed, and safe."
Mayor Lightfoot said they will work with officials to possibly reschedule events for a later date.
"We all know what the St. Patrick's Day celebrations mean to us in the city of Chicago - but as elected leaders, we can't take any chances with the health of our residents," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Because of what we've seen nationally and across the world of the increased risk of large gatherings, this was the right call and I thank Mayor Lightfoot for her leadership in this difficult situation. Now that we've reached the stage where we're seeing regular new cases-reflecting additional spread within our communities-we have to make every effort to minimize further spread."
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The city said it will review all future non-essential, large gathering and provide recommendations as needed.