The 2020 Rochester St. Patrick's Day parade has been "suspended" following Monroe County's first confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to the Daily Messenger

Monroe County officials had been taking a wait-and-see approach about whether to proceed on Saturday with what is arguably Rochester's biggest civic event the the year: the Tops St. Patrick's Day Parade.

On Thursday morning, hours after announcing the county's first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, they canceled it.

The chance of contracting COVID-19 in the county still remains low, said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello during a press conference.

However, "The risk now exceeds the benefit to proceeding with the parade," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, the county's public health commissioner, so "the decision was made to suspend the parade."

The patient who tested positive for the respiratory illness, which on Wednesday was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization, was in isolation at home and "recovering nicely," Bello said earlier in a news release.

Mendoza said at the press conference that the patient acquired the virus while traveling and not as a result of local transmission.

As many as 100,000 people were expected to converge on downtown for the 12:30 p.m. parade, featuring 4,000 marchers, 15 bands, seven Irish dance schools, floats, firetrucks and more, and following the traditional route from East Avenue and Alexander Street to Main and Fitzhugh streets.

The announcement here follows news of St. Patrick's Day parades being scrapped in major U.S. cities — including New York, Chicago and Boston — over coronavirus concerns. Prior to that, officials in Ireland announced that St. Patrick's Day parades and festivals would be canceled nationwide.

This year’s Grand Marshal for the Rochester parade was to have been Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, a Batavia resident who last June was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Iraq. World War II medic and Fairport resident "Harmonica Pete" DuPre had been designated Honorary Marshal.