From conventions to climbs, coronavirus concerns impact Downtown Indy events

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 18:51:44-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Concerns about the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are impacting events in Downtown Indianapolis.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Friday the first case of the illness in the state — a Marion County man who traveled to Boston and is now in isolation.

The Fight for Air Climb was supposed to begin Saturday morning, with more than a thousand people huffing and puffing up 47 floors at the Salesforce Tower.

But the host sponsor postponed the event amid concerns about the coronavirus.

The event raises money for lung disease research, education and advocacy.

RTV6 spoke with the American Lung Association in Indiana on Saturday, and the executive director said it wasn’t their decision but the organization understands being cautious.

“It's disappointing and we are so sorry, but we are also so hopeful we will have a new date soon," said American Lung Association in Indiana executive director Tanya Husain. “Most people have been very gracious and understanding, because this is a virus unknown to us and people understand this is new territory.”

The event’s website shows more than $257,000 has been raised so far, which is about 75% of their goal.

Husain is confident they can still reach their goal of $335,000.

“People are still very supportive and know we need research and need help,” Husain said. “People have been proactive to say please keep my donations. We have almost a million people who are affected by lung disease in this state.”

Other downtown events have also been impacted including the American Coatings Show and Conference scheduled for March 31.

Public health officials have not recommended the cancellation of any large events.

Saturday, the Indiana State Department of Health said the Marion County man diagnosed with coronavirus remains in isolation.

“We are not disclosing the location,” said Jennifer O’Malley, spokeswoman for ISDH said Saturday in an email to RTV6. “All appropriate infection control practices are being followed, and there is no ongoing risk of exposure to the public from this individual. We have conferred with the CDC regarding the need to test other individuals related to this patient.

O’Malley said no other individuals have been identified as needing testing related to this case.

Health officials recommend washing hands, covering your cough, staying home if you’re sick and calling your provider ahead of time before coming into a healthcare facility.

Despite some postponed events, many people enjoyed a clear sunny day in downtown Indianapolis and said they’re not too concerned.

"If they're willing to take a business hit from their side of things, that's their prerogative I really don't think it's something that needs to be taken that seriously," downtown resident Matt Jaworowski said. “I just live my life as normal by washing my hands, covering my mouth and using hand sanitizer. I’m not concerned about it.”

Sara Thevenin is visiting from Dayton, Ohio to attend the Ashley McBride concert in Indianapolis.

“I don't live in fear of things like that. I just go on and live my life,” Thevenin said. “If it's gonna happen it's gonna happen. I could get hit by a car walking in Indy."