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Thousands sign petition calling on SXSW to cancel 2020 event as coronavirus spreads

The petition asked the festival to think about the “people who could die because of this.”

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: Austin and Travis County leaders announced on March 6 that SXSW has been canceled.

As of Saturday afternoon, thousands of people have signed a petition calling on South by Southwest (SXSW) to cancel the event this year thanks to the spread of coronavirus.

The two-week festival in March draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to Austin.

But after more than 80,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with coronavirus, residents are raising alarm. In the U.S., the CDC has reported 62 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. Of those, 15 cases were detected and tested in the U.S. through public health surveillance systems. There have been six confirmed deaths in Washington state.

While a China Gathering program at SXSW 2020 has already been canceled over coronavirus concerns, SXSW has no plans to call off the festival this year.

In a statement this week, SXSW said the event is proceeding as planned:

“Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event. 

“Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend.

“We are increasing our efforts to prevent the spread of disease per Austin Public Health’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary.”

RELATED:

China Gathering cancels SXSW 2020 program amid China's coronavirus outbreaks, letter says

SXSW organizers say coronavirus spread isn't affecting festival preparations

The petition called that decision “irresponsible amid an outbreak.” Creator Shayla Lee asked the festival to think about the “people who could die because of this.”

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