Miami on Friday canceled its annual Chinese New Year Festival that was planned for next weekend.
The Asian-American Advisory Board, the organization that plans the event, said in a statement that the event was canceled “in order to stand with the global family of Asia — especially China.”
However, on Facebook, festival organizers explicitly cited coronavirus as the reason for the cancelation.
“Due to the worldwide concerns regarding 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and our concern for the welfare and benefit of all our visitors, vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors, the 2020 Festival Committee has canceled the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival,” the post read.
Peter Liu, chairman of the festival told the Miami Herald on Saturday that the coronavirus wasn’t the main reason why the celebration was canceled, but said that due to “unwarranted fears,” attendance was expected to be significantly low.
“The festival limps from year to year and that is why financial stability is significant,” Liu told the paper. “We have heard reports from many of our regular attendees that they plan to skip this year.”
According to China’s National Health Commission, as of Friday, there were 34,546 confirmed cases of the virus in mainland China and 722 deaths.
On Saturday, the first American death from the virus was confirmed in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. In the U.S., there have been 12 confirmed cases of the virus, but no casualties.