AUSTIN, Texas – As federal health officials warn about the new coronavirus potentially spreading in America, Austin is getting ready to host hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world.
The annual South by Southwest Festival starts in about three weeks, but what are city officials doing to keep people safe? Starting on March 13th, downtown is going to be filled with people.
“Huge clients, every year, they come to town. Facebook, Google, YouTube. We’re so happy to get to work with them. It’s pretty exciting,” says Bob Woody, downtown business owner.
Last year, nearly half a million people attended over two weeks. With so many people in close quarters….
Jessica creech, concerned about the outbreak:
“It’s really concerning to me. I have five boys at home. Five small children,” says Jessica Creech.
In previous years, Creech drove Uber or Lyft during South By.
“Just during the major events that come in, that bring in a lot of people from out of town,” says Creech.
This year, she’s not so sure.
“I think I want to hear what the plan is,” says Creech.
Austin Public Health says it’s monitoring the outbreak closely. But even though they’re being vigilant, they say they may not be able to “effectively prevent” the coronavirus from coming here.
“Health officials are getting the word out, though, about preventing any types of viruses from spreading. Soon, you’ll see flyers like this in public places reminding you to wash your hands often and stay home when you’re sick.”
The Austin Convention Center says it’s adding more hand sanitizers and hand-cleaning stations, and they’ll clean restrooms, escalators, and door handles more often.
“Maybe SXSW should invest in N95 masks for people. If you’re going to be going into the building, you have to wear one,” says Creech.
“Be thoughtful. Take those precautions you normally would during flu season,” says Woody.