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Mayor De Blasio Says He Has 'Real Concerns' About St. Patrick's Day Parade Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday morning he has "real concerns" about next week's St. Patrick's Day Parade amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases in New York continues to grow. As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were 212 cases statewide:

  • 121 in Westchester
  • 48 in New York City
  • 28 in Nassau County
  • 6 in Suffolk County
  • 6 in Rockland County
  • 2 in Saratoga
  • 1 in Ulster

The World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus spread a pandemic.

Several cities including Dublin, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have all canceled their parades.

"We're talking it through with the parade committee. We have to really think about this one because it is obviously a beloved event and an important event," de Blasio said.

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Latest | NY Health Dept. | NYC Health Dept. | NY Hotline: 1-888-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 | CT Hotline: 211

"The parade is kind of a mixed bag in terms of making this decision because again, an outdoor environment where there's a breeze and you're not talking about something that hangs in the air. It's not a slam dunk to say that this is something that should be instantly canceled," de Blasio said. "On the other hand, there are some real concerns. We're going to talk it through with the parade committee. Let's see where that goes in the next day or two. But each one of these is a case by case."

De Blasio was asked if it was irresponsible not to cancel it, considering many of those attending will have to take the subway.

"Right, the subway piece is a real consideration for sure. The part of the parade of the parade that lead to indoor gatherings – I am very concerned about. And again, we are trying. This is a very special event so we want to not take it lightly," de Blasio said.

"If you listen to the experts, they would say you should not be having a St. Patrick's Day convening at this time, which I believe makes sense," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


Officials have called for "social distancing" amid the outbreak.

"All the experts say social distancing. You should be more than six feet from someone. Try walking down a New York City sidewalk and be six feet from people. It would be virtually impossible," Cuomo said.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Discusses Coronavirus Outbreak

Cuomo said that CUNY and SUNY will be moving to a "distance learning model" as of March 19.

Cuomo also said he's appealing to the business community to stagger shifts and implement telecommuting to ease density in the city.

Cuomo took aim at the amount of testing being done in the United States.

"This country, we've done 5,000 tests to date, according to the secretary of Health and Human Services. So our testing capacity is nowhere near what it needs to be. Now, there'll be a retrospective one day. What happened? Why? You saw China, November, December last year. You saw the case coming. Why did it take so long for this country to get a testing protocol done?" Cuomo said. "So New York state is going to take matters into its own hand. We're going to start contracting with private labs in this state to increase our testing capacity."

Cuomo said New York will be working with 28 private labs in the state to boost testing capacity.

"Frankly we're not in a position where we can rely on the CDC or the FDA to manage this testing protocol," Cuomo said.

Tuesday night, organizers canceled the New York City Half Marathon, which was scheduled for Sunday.

The New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center, originally set for April, was rescheduled to Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 later this year.

New York City Public Schools canceled face-to-face parent teacher conferences Thursday and Friday, replacing them with phone calls or virtual conferences.

John Jay College was closed Wednesday after someone there tested positive for the virus.


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