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Coronavirus Fears Put Damper on SF Chinatown Business During New Year Festivities

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Despite fears surrounding the novel coronavirus, the Chinese New Year Parade -- San Francisco's biggest party -- is still on for Saturday night.

"All of our Chinese New Year activities will be performed or conducted on schedule," said Kenny Tse of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Two patients with novel coronavirus from San Benito County are being treated in isolation at UCSF. Health officials are clear that there is no active coronavirus circulating in San Francisco or the Chinese community here.

UPDATE: For The Latest Coverage On The Coronavirus Outbreak

"In the case that there would be a case in San Francisco, you would hear it from the health department first," said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Despite those assurances, businesses in Chinatown are feeling the pinch during what should be their busy season.

At Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, the cookies are ready but few are buying.

Since January 26, the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year, Chinatown streets have been unusually quiet.

"Look at this. I think it's not normal. I guess people think of the virus and they think of Chinatown as the one that carries the virus," owner Kevin Chan told KPIX.

Even Grant Avenue, which can get packed shoulder-to-shoulder with pedestrians, was relatively empty.

Doctors say there is one risk factor for contracting coronavirus and has little to do with shopping in Chinatown.

"Currently the biggest risk factor for contracting the novel coronavirus is travel to China, specifically Hubei Province," said Dr. Tomas Aragon of SFDPH.

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