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Boston Cancels Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade Amid Coronavirus Fears

BOSTON (CBS) -- This Sunday's St. Patrick's Day parade and breakfast in South Boston have been canceled as coronavirus concerns grow.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the move was "out of an abundance of caution" because the parade draws huge crowds every year.

"While the risk in Boston remains low, this situation is changing very quickly and we are closely monitoring any local cases," Mayor Walsh said in a statement. "Our top priority is preventing any new cases, to the best of our ability, and we are paying close attention to guidance from public health officials."

Organizers understand this is sad for families who have loved this tradition for many years.

"People have walked in monsoons," said Bryan Bishop, Director of Parade Operations. "It's been snowing. It's been 80 degrees outside, it's been 20 degrees outside. This is different."

The force behind the event is vowing to be back bigger than ever one year from now. "St. Patrick's Day comes every year," Bishop said. "Next year is the 120th anniversary and we will put together one heck of a parade."

Rep. Stephen Lynch said canceling the parade is a "necessary precaution" and is based on data and advice provided by federal, state and local health officials.

"In the past, on a day with good weather we have seen crowds of over a million people converge on our neighborhood to celebrate the feast of St Patrick," Rep. Lynch said. "Couple that with the huge number of house parties - it would have put a lot of people at risk of exposure."

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus jumped to 41 on Monday. According to the Department of Public Health, the risk of coronavirus to the general public in Massachusetts remains low.

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