Will Coachella Be Cancelled Over Coronavirus?

Six cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the county where the massive music and arts festival takes place, according to multiple local reports on Monday.

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The fate of Coachella remains unclear as officials are forced to weigh risks and repercussions of canceling major events, but it’s still on… for now.

The California county in which the massive arts and music festival is held confirmed local coronavirus cases over the weekend, just weeks out from Coachella’s start date. The event in Indio, CA brings in hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and world over two weekends, with this year’s set to be April 10-12 and 17-19. The first weekend is already sold out.

Three additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Monday, according to multiple local reports, bringing the total to at least six. On Sunday, Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser declared a public health emergency after the county confirmed three cases —including one locally acquired case.

Just this weekend, officials said they would consider cancelling the music festival if the virus spreads in the area, but didn’t get into specifics.

“If we do make an emergency declaration based on changes in local conditions, as a public health officer I do have the ability to shut down such large gatherings,” Kaiser said last Thursday. “We would do so with as much lead time as possible.”

It’s unclear what the ramifications of canceling Coachella would be, with the event reportedly driving hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies.

As the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to rise, many organizers have cancelled major events as a preventative measure. The South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, FL, and some NCAA tournament games are just some of the U.S. events that have been cancelled because of the outbreak. The BNP Paribas Open, a major tennis tournament held in Indian Wells (also in Riverside County), was cancelled.

A petition urging for Coachella to be cancelled emerged last Tuesday, and by Monday, it had garnered more than 12,000 signatures. A counter-petition launched on Wednesday has a description that reads: “Let’s not cancel Coachella, if you want it cancelled just sell your ticket.” That petition has more than 1,400 signatures.

Organizers for the 2020 Olympics were experiencing similar pressure about cancelling or postponing the games, but the events are still on track to be hosted in Tokyo, Japan.

On Wednesday, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and said the declaration was to ensure that the state would receive aid in containing and treating the virus.

As of Monday, at least 600 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S., causing five deaths. More than 100,000 people have been infected worldwide, causing at least 3,892 deaths. Of those infected, more than 62,000 have since recovered.

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