This weekend’s Chinese New Year Festival at NorthPark Center was postponed Thursday by event organizers. The decision drew backlash online with some calling the move excessive and racially motivated.
The event, organized by the Crow Museum of Asian Art and NorthPark Center, was deferred due to “the current and evolving health crisis in China,” officials said in a statement.
Based on what merits did you base this decision outside of it being an asian inspired event? I have not heard of any government or public official statement about event restrictions due to the virus. I would say this is clearly decriminatory in nature & needs more explanation.
— Senku Ishgami 🧢 (@DaoPeter) January 31, 2020
The coronavius outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, was declared a global emergency Thursday by the World Health Organization. More than 7,800 cases and 170 deaths have occurred in China since the new virus was reported in December.
Eighteen other countries have reported cases of the virus, including the United States. As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed five cases of infection from the new coronavirus in the U.S., including two in California, one in Illinois and one in Arizona. All have been linked to people who traveled to the Wuhan area in China, and there have been no deaths in the U.S. as a result of the virus.
Health officials in Texas are stressing that flu is still a bigger health threat in the state and urging people to keep calm and take preventative measures, like hand washing. Dr. Trish Perl, chief of infectious diseases and geographic medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center told The Texas Tribune that so far the mortality rate for the Wuhan coronavirus is about the same as a bad year of the flu.
Some community members took to social media to say the festival organizers went too far in postponing the cultural event. Irma Fernandez commented on NorthPark Center’s Twitter post announcing the postponement saying, “You’re giving into racial undertones and creating panic when we have no reason to do so right now.
One Facebook comment echoed Fernandez saying NorthPark should be ashamed.
There were others who felt it made sense to postpone a large event like the festival. Another Facebook comment said between coronavirus and flu “being around big groups of people isn’t a smart idea.”
Amy Lewis Hofland, the museum’s senior director, told The Dallas Morning News “The postponement is disappointing, but it didn’t seem appropriate, or respectful, to celebrate during this time.”
David Gu, Chair of the Crow Museum’s Chinese New Year host committee, told the Morning News that other events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been canceled or postponed, including the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce annual Chinese New Year Banquet.
“We would have liked to have a celebration, no question,” he told the Morning News. “At the same time, that’s hard to control, and we want to be safe and cautious. Especially with visitors, going to the mall is a very common thing.”
Other local Chinese New Year events are being held as scheduled Saturday, including Highland Park Village’s Chinese New Year Celebration and Shopping Stroll and Galleria Dallas’ Lunar New Year Celebration.
The New York Times reported Thursday an increase in anti-Chinese sentiment as fear of the viral outbreak spreads.
The Associated Press and NPR contributed to this post.