Amid COVID-19 social distancing orders, hundreds of St. Patrick's Day revelers marched in an unsanctioned Irish Heritage Parade in Tybee Island, near Savannah, on Saturday.
As the United States government begins to ramp up social distancing, test and warnings about the Coronavirus COVID-19 hundreds of revelers in Georgia took part in a St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday (March 15), just hours after the event was canceled due to health concerns.
At the time of publication, there are 99 cases of infection in Georgia and one death so far.
On Saturday morning George Governor Brian Kemp declare a health emergency in the state. Despite this, the Irish Heritage Parade in Tybee Island went ahead.
Tybee Island’s municipal website announced the cancellation of the parade at 11 am on Saturday, but by 2:30 people were lining up on the city’s main street.
The Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions did not participate in the event.
In a statement posted to the municipal website, Sessions said:
“Unfortunately my efforts to get council’s support to withdraw the permit for the Irish Heritage Parade have been unsuccessful. Although the governor has now declared a state of emergency, their decision to move forward with the event is unchanged...
"Due to the circumstances that have evolved, I cannot support or participate in the parade. I will continue to work with the city manager and staff to protect the safety of our residents and visitors, and encourage everyone to be cautious and follow the suggestions of health professionals.”
Authorities posted an announcement about the cancelation on a billboard next to the parade route but this did not deter residents who marched in the parade.
A local, Jennifer Rentires, told local news station WSAV, “We’re always going to be Tybee strong no matter what, and were going to support local businesses.
"We’re just going to enjoy the day, it’s one big block party here at Tybee.”
By Sunday, according to ABC News, the number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States had grown to 2,952 cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. John Hopkins University reports outbreak clusters in New York, Washington State, and California. The university is tracking reports and confirming them with local health departments. Currently, there is some debate over the official figures in the United States due to tot he uneven rollout of testing and criteria for diagnosis.
What do you make of this community's decision to march amid the COVID-19 outbreak? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.