St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, through a series of tweets, announced that the St. Petersburg Grand Prix has canceled general attendance.
Kriseman on Wednesday said the race was still on, but discouraged sick people to stay at home and watch it on TV, and that the situation was fluid and would be monitored.
Yesterday I said the situation regarding the #coronavirus was fluid. I said that for a reason. Since yesterday, we've learned of a coronavirus case at an open-air event similar to ours, Bike Week. Then, at an EMS conference across the Bay from us. The @WHO has since called...
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 12, 2020
He says the decision comes after the Florida Department of Health late Wednesday night announced that a New York resident visiting Daytona Beach for Bike Week tested positive for coronavirus. The 63-year-old man is in St. John’s County and is isolated until being cleared by New York public health officials.
"I don't make this decision lightly. I strongly believe life must carry on, as best we are able. But the reality now is that's just not possible. I am disappointed. I love this race. But I love this city and our residents more. Thank you for your trust."
A 70-year-old-man from Broward also tested positive after attending the Journal of Emergency Medical Services conference at the Tampa Convention Center last week.
Kriseman said they are working with promoters and the NTT IndyCar Series for more announcements later on whether the race itself will continue.
The race draws about 150,00 people to St. Petersburg each year, sparking concerns about further spread of COVID-19.
The announcement comes as officials said no spectators will be permitted at University of South Florida home sporting events, and the Valspar Championship PGA Tournament at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor next week.
In all, 26 Florida residents have been diagnosed in Florida with the respiratory disease known as COVID-19. Two have died.