Coronavirus fears have people seeking healthier alternatives to shaking hands.
Florida’s most populous county – which includes part of Miami – declared a state of emergency Wednesday night and canceled all major public events hours after seeing its first death from the novel coronavirus.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement Thursday he was taking “preemptive steps” to limit the possible spread of the virus, also known as COVID-19.
“Although we do not have community spread at this time, we want to take the preemptive steps to keep it that way,” Gimenez said in a statement on his website.” “Therefore, I have decided to suspend the operation of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, the Miami Open tennis tournament, the MIA 5K run, and all major events at the American Airlines Arena.”
He continued: “The March 22 NASCAR race at the Homestead Miami Speedway is postponed at this time. NASCAR officials will decide whether or not to hold the race without fans.”
There have been more than 124,500 coronavirus cases worldwide since it was first detected in Wuhan, China late last year.
As of Thursday morning, the United States has seen more than 1,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in 44 states plus Washington, D.C. In Florida, there have been at least 26 cases with two confirmed deaths.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “global pandemic.”
“As we move forward together during this time, we will continue to monitor what the World has determined is a global pandemic,” Gimenez continued. “We will constantly evaluate planned mass gatherings as the situation evolves.”
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Gimenez said while public health officials continue to monitor the situation, he recommends that small gatherings, “if they’re not essential,” also be reconsidered.
Last week, the Ultra Music Festival slated to happen later this month in Miami was canceled.
Miami-Dade is home to more than 2.7 million people in South Florida, making it the seventh-most populous county in the United States.