OCEAN CITY — While the town of Ocean City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for Saturday is still on as planned, resort officials continue to monitor and prepare for the growing coronavirus situation.
The COVID-19, or coronavirus, situation has caused schools, colleges and universities to close, forced the cancellation of major public events where large groups of people congregate, and generally caused a growing anxiety bordering on mass hysteria around the country and around the world. Already, St. Patrick’s Day parades in several major cities have been cancelled or postponed including Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, for example.
With Ocean City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade set for Saturday, no decision has yet been made on its status although by Wednesday afternoon, the popular event is still scheduled as planned. However, resort officials acknowledged they are monitoring the situation. In an open letter to residents and visitors released on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Rick Meehan said town officials have been and continue to monitor the situation and stressed a calm and educated response.
“There is no higher priority to the town of Ocean City than the health and safety of the people who live here, work here and vacation here,” the letter reads. “I can assure you that the town is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19 and is working closely with our partners at the Worcester County Health Department and the Maryland Department of Health.”
In the letter, Meehan said the town has been closely monitoring the situation since it first came to light and established an internal preparedness group several weeks ago. Again, no town special events, including Saturday’s parade, have been cancelled, but that could change as the situation evolves.
“This group has been diligently developing proactive contingency plans for the town, including putting strategic procedures in place for our employees and our facilities,” the letter reads. “While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ocean City or Worcester County, we are taking every measure necessary to enhance our day-to-day practices in the interest of health and safety. Although no events have been cancelled at this time, that could change if developing circumstances warrant us to take further action.”
Perhaps most importantly, Meehan’s letter encourages residents and visitors to absorb the information and make informed decisions.
“We encourage our residents and visitors to remain calm and stay informed,” the letter reads. “Know your risks and refer to the Worcester County Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health and the CDC websites. The situation is rapidly changing, but I assure you that the town of Ocean City is prepared to navigate through these challenging circumstances with our residents’ and visitors’ health and safety at the forefront.”
Meehan’s letter urges residents and visitors to follow the common-sense recommendations of the local, state and national health departments.
“As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to increase, the most important thing we can do right now is take universal precaution to prevent the spread of illness,” the letter reads.
Those precautions include avoiding close contact with people who or sick and staying home when you are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away; clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces and, of course, wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
A link on the town’s website providing further information has been established at www.oceancitymd.gov/covid19. Other important information can be found at worcesterhealth.org; health.maryland.gov; and CDC.gov.