SXSW and local events proceed as scheduled despite coronavirus concerns

‘We will continue to monitor the situation closely...’ SXSW officials say

SXSW and local events proceed as scheduled despite coronavirus concerns

SAN ANTONIO – As more coronavirus cases continue to arise, events in Texas that attract international visitors are still happening, including South by Southwest.

At SXSW, there are different events focused on technology, education, music and film.

Officials with SXSW tell us the event is proceeding as planned.

Last year, more than 400,000 people attended the festival over two weeks and of those, more than 73,000 attended the conference portion.

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People from 106 countries were present.

SXSW spokesperson sent us this statement, saying they are working closely with officials to host the event as planned:

“The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned. Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event. Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend. We are increasing our efforts to prevent the spread of disease per Austin Public Health’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary.”

Dale Blasingame, who lives in New Braunfels, has been going to SXSW for nine years and said the news of the coronavirus is not going to impact his plans.

“It’s not going to affect what I do. I’m one of those people — I don’t really think we can live in fear of what is out there,” Blasingame said.

The Austin Convention Center Department said in a statement that even though the SXSW 2020 is still happening, they are taking extra safety precautions.

“The Austin Convention Center Department has increased cleaning activity with the national news of the coronavirus. Visitor and employee safety is a primary concern and assuring a healthy place to convene and work is our goal. The department is placing more hand sanitizers and hand cleaning stations around the facility. ACCD has increased frequency of cleanliness for restrooms, escalators, door handles and other primary places of contact that are frequently touched.”

Signage has been posted, encouraging visitors and staff to continue following the health suggestions below:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when sick
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

ACCD is in contact with Austin Public Health (APH) who is monitoring the situation in coordination with Texas Department of State Health Services, the CDC, local and regional public health and healthcare agencies.

Here at home, the City of San Antonio said they will be hosting a group of international people from the SXSW conference in San Antonio. The city tells us the coronavirus has not impacted these plans.

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Looking ahead with big events like Fiesta coming up in April, Metro Health tells us no city events have been canceled.

Metro Health said the city will continue to share educational messages and encourage the public to be part of the solution. Many of their tips are the same tips offered throughout the cold and flu seasons like proper hand washing, staying home if you’re sick and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.