Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie on Sunday declared a state of emergency, banning any gatherings of 250 or more people on public property or public right of ways.
The move means the previously scheduled St. Patrick’s Day parade won’t be held on Tuesday. Organizers of the parade had not canceled the annual event.
On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced the first “community spread” of the coronavirus, which means the highly contagious virus is spreading in the state from unknown sources. The new coronavirus case was out of Dallas County, which neighbors Polk County.
Cownie’s declaration gives Des Moines police the ability to enforce the ban of large gatherings on city property or right-of-ways. Any permits or permissions of gatherings were rescinded by the announcement. The city will refund any permit fees upon request, according to a news release.
On Friday, Cownie urged the cancellation of large events and gatherings in Des Moines.
“We don’t want Des Moines to become a Seattle,” he told the Business Record. Seattle is considered the U.S. epicenter for the virus.