COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Some Mid-Missouri events are being canceled as concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak continue.
The Mid-Mo Baby Expo scheduled for Saturday has been postponed until June 27, citing concerns about the novel coronavirus.
The event organizer, Zimmer Radio and Marketing Group, said it has been working closely with Boone Hospital Center to make the decision.
Even though central Missouri is still considered low risk for COVID-19, we have decided to exercise additional caution. The health and safety of our community is the number one priority.Zimmer Radio and Marketing Group and Boone Hospital
Special Olympics Missouri also announced it is suspending all sports training, practices, competitions and other program-related activities involving athletes through March 31.
In a statement, the organization said it is taking the outbreak seriously because some participants and supporters have medical issues that may make them more susceptible to the virus.
Special Olympics made the decision after consulting with state and county health officials. Local officials took guidance from the CDC and the World Health Organization, which declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic Wednesday.
It will require ALL of us taking every precautionary measure to ensure that everyone stays as healthy as possible. Please join us in taking this seriously for the safety of all of our athletes and the safety of our community at large.Special Olypics Missouri
The organization will reevaluate the plan at the end of March.
Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Megan McConachie said tourism officials have seen other small events canceling because of health concerns.
CVB is monitoring the situation because McConachie said about 11,000 people in Boone County work in industries affected by tourism. It isn't yet clear how much cancellations have affected the economy, she said.
"It's definitely a balancing act right now of trying to determine how much we should be encouraging people to travel," McConachie said. "Because a lot of people do depend on that and also, the safety of our visitors and our residents."
She said the spread of the virus is starting to affect businesses in Columbia such as hotels.
"When tourism suffers, a lot of local businesses suffer and so this could potentially be a rough stretch coming ahead," McConachie said.
Dr. Helena Galstian of Big Tree Medical Home said canceling events could help medical professionals by slowing the spread of the virus.
"We're trying to limit the amount of people getting sick at once so that hospitals and clinics aren't in their full capacity," Galstian said.
She said medical professionals are concerned with how quickly the virus is spreading and how little they still know about it.
Because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread through the air, Galstian believes it is good that events are being postponed or canceled
"There is so much about it we don't know yet, so we just want to be able to have time to understand and learn about the virus," Galstian said.
She said the main thing people should do is not panic, practice good hygiene and stay informed about the virus.
"It would be wise to avoid events just because we don't know how far it's spread," Galstian said.