By Associated Press - Friday, March 13, 2020

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Butte has been canceled because of concerns about the new coronavirus, based on the advice of the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department. However, Montana’s high school basketball tournaments will still be held this weekend as scheduled.

Thousands of people traditionally descend on Butte, which has a strong Irish heritage, for its St. Patrick’s Day festivities and the parade usually draws political candidates from around the state. Matthew Boyle with the Butte America Foundation said there were 89 parade entries in Tuesday’s now-canceled parade.

The Edmonton Police Service Pipes and Drums Band, which has marched in Butte’s parade since 1984, had already canceled.

Meanwhile, Montana High School Association Director Mark Beckman said organizers consulted with the Department of Public Health and Human Services before deciding to maintain tournament play as scheduled on Friday, the Independent Record reported.

Beckman said organizers decided to proceed with the events because there are no coronavirus cases confirmed in Montana and because all of the teams are from Montana. Organizers are sanitizing surfaces and asking athletes to greet each other with fist bumps and elbow bumps rather than hugs or handshakes, Beckman said.

The Class AA tournament is being held in Bozeman and the Class A tournament is in Billings. Class B teams are competing in Butte and the Class C tournament is in Missoula. The championship games are scheduled for Saturday night.

In most cases, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. In mild cases it can take about two weeks and in more severe cases it can take three to six weeks.

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