St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in downtown Roanoke deemed reckless behavior by VDH leader

‘We may be done with this virus, but this virus is not done with us’

ROANOKE, Va. – Despite warnings, dozens of people gathered in Roanoke over the weekend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Roanoke City & Alleghany Health Districts Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said she was frustrated after what she referred to as reckless behavior by some over the weekend.

“We may be done with this virus, but this virus is not done with us,” said Morrow.

Despite COVID-19, hundreds crowded into Downtown Roanoke to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 13, 2021. (WSLS)

10 News captured video on Saturday night showing hundreds of people in downtown Roanoke’s Market Square celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, not wearing masks and not social distancing.

“Behavior like that gives the virus an opportunity to come back,” said Morrow.

The aftermath could mean a spike in cases.

“Any time I see gatherings like that, it’s upsetting because that behavior puts all of us at risk,” said Morrow.

Although vaccine supply is increasing and more and more people are getting their doses, Morrow said we’re not even close to herd immunity, even in the most vaccinated jurisdiction.

“We’re only seeing about 30% have had access to at least one dose and that’s nowhere near enough for us to begin to consider herd immunity,” said Morrow.

Morrow said it’s disappointing to see people continue to put their need to socialize above the need to beat this virus.

“We have the power to turn this pandemic around. It’s in our hands right now,” said Morrow. “And behavior like this undermines our collective efforts to be done with COVID once and for all.”

Morrow said the district hasn’t received any official complaints for violations from the weekend.

VDH will investigate any complaints of violations, but people need to report them first.

Once they get a complaint, they’ll look for evidence of a violation and speak with any restaurant or bar that might not be complying to try to educate them.

If there are repeat offenses, restaurants could temporarily lose their license to operate.

“I frequently talk about the importance of everybody doing their job and taking responsibility. One of the things that we rely on is the public to report any violations so that we can follow up and do the due process,” said Morrow.

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