City of Nome Council Chambers. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus; KNOM

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. All non-essential City buildings will be closed from March 14-31st due to concerns over a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

After meetings with state medical officials, the Iditarod Trail Committee announced today [THUR] that they are postponing the Iditarod Finishers’ Banquet and Musher Meet and Greet.

The Nome Common Council voted to follow suit and postpone all Nome Iditarod events, including the famous annual Lonnie O’Connor Iditarod Basketball Classic, an event that attracts visitors from the across the state and hosts crowds of between 500-800 people in the Nome Recreational Center.  

As of this Saturday [3/14], the following will be closed to public use: the Nome Rec Center, the swimming pool, and Old St. Joe’s, as well as the Nome Visitor’s Center and the Richard Foster building, which holds the library, museum and cultural center. Additionally, all after school activities in Nome Public Schools buildings will be canceled.  

After listening to recommendations from public health officials and hearing testimony from the community, the Nome Common Council reasoned that the precautions were necessary to restrict any spread of the potential coronavirus. Not only just within the city, but also especially for rural communities outside of Nome, where Elders may have more limited access to medical care.