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Citing coronavirus concerns, Alhambra postpones Lunar New Year festival

A woman stands near decorations marking the Lunar New Year holiday in Beijing on Monday.
A woman stands near decorations marking the Lunar New Year holiday in Beijing on Monday. California cities are wary of hosting New Year celebrations amid coronavirus fears.
(Getty Images)

The city of Alhambra has postponed its Lunar New Year Festival after multiple vendors asked to withdraw from the event, citing fears over the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The festival was scheduled to begin Saturday, one week after the start of the Chinese New Year. On Tuesday, city officials said that vendors believed turnout would be low “due to the risk of the coronavirus.”

According to organizers, an average of 55,000 people typically turn out for the annual event in the middle of San Gabriel Valley’s commercial district.

"[Considering] the community health situation, we sadly decided to postpone,” the event organizer’s website states.

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The epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak is in Wuhan, China. Although officials have said the risk of local transmission is low, concern has continued to increase amid confirmation of a growing number of cases, including one each in the counties of Los Angeles and Orange, as well in Chicago, Arizona and Washington state.

In Alhambra, where those of Asian descent comprise the majority of the population, some residents expressed disappointment, while others voiced relief over the city’s decision.

“Good call for now,” one person wrote on social media. “That’s a safe decision,” another said.

The city plans to reschedule the festival for later, although it was not known when. Officials weren’t immediately available to comment further.

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At least 213 people have died from the virus and more than 9,770 people have been infected. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global public health emergency, a decision that will likely make resources more broadly available to health officials.


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