2019 photo courtesy Experience Fayetteville
Experience Fayetteville’s First Thursday event that was scheduled for this week has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, the organization announced Tuesday.
Organizers said the decision was made in response to a sharp increase in virus cases and local hospitalizations.
The state on Monday reported the highest increase in hospitalizations since the pandemic began, with 81 new people being admitted with the virus.
Martine Downs Pollard, executive director for communications at Mercy Hospital, said Monday the facility had reached an all-time high of 165 COVID-19 patients, which represents an increase of almost 600% over the past six weeks. Pollard said the youngest patient is 12 years old, and the average age of patients is 39 years old. About 95% of admitted patients who are eligible for a vaccine, she said, are not vaccinated.
The Community Clinic’s Mobile Health Unit that was set to offer free vaccinations during the event has also been cancelled.
The free events typically include live music, art demonstrations, children’s activities, food trucks and more.
“While we are deeply disappointed that we’ve had to make this decision, we recognize that our First Thursday event draws many families to the square, including some of the most vulnerable among us, like children who are ineligible to be vaccinated for the delta variant of the coronavirus, said Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville.
Rawn said her team will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical professionals as the First Thursday season moves forward. Two other events are scheduled – one on Sept. 2 and another on Oct. 7.