Despite calls for social distancing, an alarming number of revelers have hit up city bars for St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
In an effort to prevent the further spread of coronavirus, a number city and state officials across the U.S. have canceled major events that draw large crowds. New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago have either postponed or canceled their respective St. Patty's festivities as a precautionary measure; however, that hasn't stopped the public from flocking to public bars.
As pointed out by the Chicago Sun-Times, a number of pubs and clubs in the Near North Side neighborhood were full of patrons donning "shades of green, leprechaun top hats, and shamrock headbands." One patron told the publication that he traveled all the way from Colorado to celebrate St. Patty's Day with his Chicago friends.
"I’m not about to put my life on hold because this is going around," Kyle Thomas said, before insisting he was taking the pandemic seriously. "I’m being careful, I’ve got my hand sanitizer, and I’m washing my hands. So much has already been canceled and we might be overreacting."
Thomas' comments was met with backlash on social media—not only because he was risking spreading the disease, but because he was identified as a nurse.
On Saturday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters there were 18 new coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 64. Pritzker said that during his drive to the press conference, he had also noticed long lines outside local bars, which of course, sparked concern.
"I realize it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend," Pritzker said, as reported by Block Club Chicago. "But large groups gathering is just not helpful. People, please stay in your neighborhood, stay home if you can."
According to CBS 2 Chicago, local police have the authority to shut down bar crawls with over 1,000 participants. The city had recently banned any large gatherings with more than thousand people, but recommended businesses to limit crowd sizes to 250 or fewer.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also pleaded with the public to practice social distancing, pointing out that even healthy citizens could catch the virus and spread it to those who more vulnerable.