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LGBTQ pride event in June canceled after Pocatello COVID-19 death and Salt Lake City riot

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POCATELLO — An LGBTQ event that was was originally given the green light to happen in June, will now not be happening at all this year.

In honor of National Pride Month in June, Priddaho Pride 2020 was supposed to take place June 13 at the Portneuf Wellness Complex. Priddaho is an organization devoted to raising awareness about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight and Unidentified individuality in eastern Idaho.

On Tuesday, Priddaho Executive Director Travis Kerbs, Bannock County Commissioners and Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department made the decision to cancel the free day-long festivities.

“I can’t … do it in good conscience because if somebody was to die or somebody was to get deathly sick or somebody was to lose a child, … I would have to live with that for the rest of my life, and I can’t do that,” Kerbs told EastIdahoNews.com.

Kerbs said from the beginning of preparations for the event, he made an executive decision that if somebody died because of COVID-19 in eastern Idaho or if the numbers increased over 1000, he would cancel the event.

On Sunday, a 65-year-old Pocatello man died at Portneuf Medical Center. His death marked the first COVID-19-related death in eastern Idaho.

RELATED: Pocatello man who died from COVID-19 complications remembered as family man who’d help anybody

“We put a lot of work (and) we invested a lot of money,” Kerbs said. “I didn’t come to the decision lightly.”

There was going to be local vendors, helicopter rides, drag queens and performers. Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad was also expected to give a speech.

Along with their concerns regarding the virus and its effects, Kerbs said the recent riots that have broken out are another factor they considered. He doesn’t want to take the chance of putting attendees in harm’s way.

“There’s a lot of rioting going on in Salt Lake City. We don’t know that it wouldn’t come down here. We don’t know that it would, but we don’t know indefinitely that it wouldn’t,” Kerbs said. “We’re not set up for that. We’re not prepared to handle that if it did happen.”

Kerbs said Priddaho plans to host the event in 2021.

“We’ll look forward to 2021 and we’ll make some good things happen,” he said. “We’ve got some amazing community support, and we’ll come together and we’ll make it happen.”

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