South by Southwest canceled amidst coronavirus outbreak

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Saturday, March 7, 2020
Austin's famous South by Southwest festival is canceled due to COVID-19
Austin's famous South by Southwest festival is canceled due to COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The City of Austin canceled their much anticipated arts and technology festival, South by Southwest amidst growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The annual event, which draws thousands every year, was originally set to start Friday, March 13 and last through Sunday, March 22.

Mayor Steve Adler announced a local disaster as a precaution because of the threat of the novel coronavirus, effectively canceling the annual event.

The announcement comes days after several high-profile companies, including Netflix, tech news outlet Mashable, video-based social media platform TikTok and U.S. chip maker Intel, pulled out of the festival.

More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival canceled.

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200 scattered across at least 18 states, including at least six cases in the Houston area.

Map of COVID-19 cases across the US, updated as confirmed by CDC

South by Southwest released the following statement:

"We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation. As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health states that 'there's no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.' However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin's decision. We are committed to do our part and help protect out staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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