Iditarod mushers will still be finishing on Front Street in Nome next week, but the City of Nome will not be hosting any race-related festivities due to concerns about the coronavirus. That includes the famous annual Lonnie O’Connor Iditarod Basketball Classic, an event that attracts hundreds of visitors from the across the state.
After meetings with state medical officials, the Iditarod Trail Committee also announced Thursday that they are postponing the Iditarod Finishers’ Banquet in Nome and and the Musher Meet and Greet.
Also, all non-essential city buildings in Nome will be closed from Saturday to the end of the month.
Alaska officials confirmed the state’s first coronavirus case on Thursday.
The Nome City Council will meet at noon Thursday to discuss canceling some Iditarod festivities due to the threat posed by coronavirus. The emergency session will be held at Nome City Hall.
Nome officials say they’ve been putting hand sanitizer in public places and doing extra cleaning in city buildings to prepare for the influx of visitors — including race volunteers and fans — expected to arrive next week as Iditarod teams pull into town.
Glenn Steckman, Nome city manager, said he called the meeting in response to community concerns about some events including a basketball tournament that brings in teams from across rural Alaska.
“I definitely think there are pockets of concern,” Steckman said. “I think people are watching the news and seeing what’s happening in other sections of the country and obviously do not want that to come here whether it be Alaska or Nome.”
As of Thursday morning, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in Alaska.
Before the Iditarod started, race officials said they planned to step up sanitation this year and distribute information about best practices to avoid getting sick, including washing hands.
Across the country, events have been canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus. The N.B.A. has suspended its season and the NCAA will hold its tournament without fans. The Anchorage School District is asking parents to prepare for the possibility of an extended spring break.
The Iditarod confirmed Thursday that there are no plans to call off the race.
Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.