CHAMPAIGN – Concerns about the spreading coronavirus and a desire to express solidarity with people in the Chinese city of Wuhan have led to the cancellation of one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in the midwest.
Yaguang Lian is the president of the Chinese American Association of Central Illinois. His group has cancelled the annual event, which was supposed to happen Saturday night at Parkland College in Champaign.
“I struggled with this decision for more than three days – to cancel it or not cancel it,” said Lian. “With so many people, maybe 250 people, together, if the virus comes here, it’s bad. And another thing is right now all the people in Wuhan suffer from the virus. It’s not good for us to celebrate.”
Julie Pryde, Public Health Administrator for the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, supports the group’s decision.
“From a public health perspective I think they’re really erring on the side of caution,” said Pryde. “And it’s also nice that they’re doing that in solidarity with Wuhan, China, because they’re really going through some rough times right now.”
But, she said, there are more pressing local health concerns, like influenza.
“Right now in our community we have a lot of influenza and flu activity and it’s pretty serious,” said Pryde. “So I don’t want people to focus exclusively on the coronavirus and forget about the influenza virus which is here now.”
Lian said his group currently has no plans to reschedule this year’s event.