Austin health and city officials say they currently have no evidence that closing South by Southwest (SXSW) or other major events will make the community safer.
Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world attend the annual days-long multi-industry event comprised of conferences, panels and festivals, according to the SXSW website.
Health officials are exploring options for "social distancing" and limiting proximity between people at SXSW, Dr. Mark E. Escott, medical director of the EMS System for the City of Austin and Travis County, said at a news briefing Wednesday.
Health officials urged the public to follow personal hygiene practices like covering their sneezes and coughs and washing their hands.
Escott said coronavirus is bad but "it's not Ebola, it's not SARS, it's not MERS."
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said public health officers would make the recommendation to cancel the festival if the community would be safer as a result, but at this point that is not the case.
"SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority," event organizers said in a statement on its website.
One of the festival's featured speakers, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, canceled plans to speak at SXSW after the social media company said it was banning “all non-critical business travel and events,” the company said in a release over the weekend.
No coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Austin, though there are individuals in the area who are being monitored until test results are complete, Escott said.
SXSW runs from March 13 to March 22.