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State science fair falls victim to coronavirus

Organizers suspended the annual event as ‘not in the best interests of the public health.’

For 64 years, Florida’s top science and engineering students have gathered to share their research and compete for top honors.

Not this spring.

With concerns rising over the spread of coronavirus, State Science and Engineering Fair organizers announced Wednesday that they have called off the 65th annual event, which had been scheduled for March 24-26 in Lakeland. They said holding the fair was not in the best interest of public health.

“The risks to more than 950 student finalists, their families, schools, communities, and the more than 800 adult volunteers that support the event, are far too great to justify this year’s SSEF,” wrote Bill Herschleb, Florida Foundation for Future Scientists chairman.

The possibility was just too high for the unimpeded transmission of the virus in the enclosed event space, especially given the close one-on-one interactions that would take place, Herschleb added.

Florida has identified three cases of coronavirus, known technically as COVID-19.