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South by Southwest festival canceled due to coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus: The Race to Respond

The upcoming South by Southwest festival has been canceled because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday.

"There was no acceptable path forward that would mitigate the risk to our community," said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin's interim health chief, noting that the number of global visitors due to attend SXSW would have heightened those risks. 

No cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. have been confirmed in Travis county, which includes Austin, Escott said. But there are at least six cases in the Houston area, the Associated Press reports.

The move to pull the plug on the popular music and technology conference, which had been scheduled to open on March 13, is the latest in a number of notable events in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world that have been called off due to the coronavirus. 

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 101,583 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. A total of 55,863 people have recovered, and 3,460 people have died. There have been 14 deaths in the U.S. – 13 in Washington state and one in California.

South by Southwest is one of the biggest public conferences of the year, with more than 400,000 people attending the 2019 show. The city cited risks including the planned arrival of visitors from international locations that have faced outbreaks of the virus. 

The announcement comes only days after a number of major companies, including Apple, Facebook, Intel and Netflix had pulled out of the event. More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival cancelled.

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The move to scrub this year's show is a blow to Austin, with last year's event adding more than $350 million to the local economy.

Festival organizers expressed regret about the need to cancel this year's conference.

"'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 working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation," the organizers said in a statement.

The Associated Press and CBS News' Irina Ivanova contributed to this report.

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