Raleigh city leaders won't 'rush' decisions to cancel events amid coronavirus concerns

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh City Council addressed coronavirus concerns at the beginning of its regularly scheduled work session Tuesday afternoon but emphasized it would not rush decisions to postpone or cancel any upcoming events.

The meeting came hours after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina.

Cooper and state public health officials said the new guidance, meant to slow the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable populations, would make funds available to help buy needed supplies, protect people from price gouging and help public health staff across the state.

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Public health officials warned that people 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions should avoid mass gatherings such as sporting events and concerts.

"We are using this saying if you would, 'we are going to be proactive, but not paranoid,'" said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. "And the last thing we need right now is panic."

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Ruffin Hall, Raleigh City Manager said that all upcoming spring events including Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade, Dreamville Festival, Brewgaloo, Artsplosure, and Out Raleigh are still scheduled to go on as planned.

Hall said city staff members are in active, regular communication with event organizers and the appropriate public health agencies.

About 50,000 people are expected at this year's Dreamville Festival scheduled for April 4 at Dorothea Dix Park; the city increased the event's permit from 40,000 in 2019.

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Derrick Remer, City of Raleigh Emergency Management and Special Events Director, said the city will likely abide by CDC guidance on how to keep buses clean for festival attendees who will heavily rely on public transit since there is no on-site parking.

Baldwin echoed the guidance from Cooper's news conference and urged people who are high risk to avoid attending the mass gatherings.

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