The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival and conference held annually in Austin, Texas will not be cancelled, despite some concerns raised online due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Over 22,000 people signed an online petition to cancel the festival this year, which is expected to run from March 13th to the 22nd. The petition was addressed to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Austin Public Health and SXSW.
Prominent tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Twitter and Facebook have all withdrawn from the festival due to concerns raised about the virus’ spread. A person named Shayla Lee posted the petition on change.org.
There have been 95,000 reported cases of coronavirus worldwide as of press time, with California recently suffering from its first reported fatality and Texas receiving its first case of the virus in Fort Bend County. The death toll from the epidemic has reached 11, although most victims worldwide have been elderly people or others with weak immune systems.
“It’s a tough call,” said Philip Keiser, an infectious disease expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston told the Austin news outlet The Statesmen. “We understand that people are nervous. The risk in Texas is really, really low. We’re still in that early, isolated case phase. The closure of schools or mass events — it’s difficult to know what the right time is.”
SXSW officials have stated that they will be “working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event.”