The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has drawn crowds to downtown Cedar Rapids for decades, but the 2020 parade is being canceled. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

UPDATED: March 11, 2020, with information from University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

CEDAR RAPIDS — This year would have marked the 45th year of the SAPADAPASO Parade in downtown Cedar Rapids, which has been held, rain or shine, since 1976.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Society posted a message on Facebook this morning, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, saying the event has been canceled, due to health concerns over the novel coronavirus.

Spectators line the streets during the 2017 SAPADAPASO Parade. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

“SaPaDaPaSo made the decision late last night to cancel this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For 45 years this parade has gone on through gail force winds, heavy rain, sleet and sunny times,” the organization stated. “Our focus is and always will be for the SAFETY and wellbeing of our participants, spectators, volunteers and the community. With the current health situation we believe this is the responsible decision.”

More: First presumptive cases of coronavirus confirmed in Iowa

The organization noted that parade participants will receive an email today and full refunds will be provided.

“Please help us keep the message positive,” they continued. “SaPaDaPaSo began receiving cancellations this week as well as numerous calls, messages & concerns from the community and volunteers. We are a small volunteer organization. The parade requires volunteers to man the streets. SaPaDaPaSo will be BACK next year for another GRAND parade!!”

A 2017 participant in the SAPADAPASO parade waves at the crowd. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The parade attracts thousands of participants and spectators to downtown Cedar Rapids every year, with the party spilling into bars and other businesses.

As of Tuesday, Iowa had 13 presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, with 46 negative tests and another 27 pending. Most cases are in Johnson County, with several people who had returned from a cruise in Egypt.

A public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.

The Iowa Department of Public Health noted that symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those most at risk of the virus are older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Iowans can help prevent the spread of illness by following simple daily precautions including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and IDPH recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.

COVID-19 was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S.

Update from University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics:

With more Iowans testing positive for influenza and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we remain prepared to treat those who need our medical care while keeping our patients, employees, students, and trainees safe.

We are currently caring for a patient with COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The patient is in isolation, which means that other patients are kept at a safe distance, and those caring for this individual are properly protected.

We were aware of this patient’s illness before they arrived at the hospital so our care team had the appropriate measures in place. We continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health, and our clinical experts.

We are committed to protecting the safety of our patients, staff, trainees, and visitors. We will take appropriate steps, which may include additional visitor restrictions and screening of those who enter the hospital. Currently, visitors are limited to two adults (age 18 and older) per patient in most circumstances.

Everyone can play a role in keeping our community safe. We are asking people to follow our visitor rules and practice good hygiene:

Use a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing to cover your mouth and nose.
Wash your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Related: SAPADAPASO Parade photos

The Czech Heritage Foundation Czech Royal Court rolls down the St. Patrick’s Day Parade route in 2017. (photo/Cindy Hadish)