A handmade dragon from a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is paraded above attendees. The annual Lunar New Year celebration scheduled for Feb. 8 at Stony Brook University is canceled. ALPHAB/FLICKR VIA CC BY 2.0

The Confucius Institute and China Center canceled the Lunar New Year celebration scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8, “out of an abundance of caution and growing concern over the coronavirus.” 

The Confucius Institute and China Center at Stony Brook, established in 2008, has been hosting the celebration at the Charles B. Wang Center since 2010. The celebrations for this holiday are elaborate and in the past have included acrobats, professional lion dancers, traditional Peking Opera performers and more.

The coronavirus outbreak — now called COVID-19 —  is causing growing anxiety around the world, and cancellations of these important festivities are becoming a national trend. Universities in Arizona and California have canceled events according to the Washington Post. Ohio University canceled its Lunar New Year celebrations as well, even though the state does not have any confirmed cases of the virus

Baylee DeMuth, a junior journalism major at the University of Ohio, wrote an op-ed about the decision and stressed the significance of this holiday to Chinese culture.

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“With so many students away from home, a celebration like this gives them that sense of security and closeness with their heritage they don’t get every day here in the U.S.,” DeMuth wrote in an email. “I think being cautious of the coronavirus is understandable, but canceling the celebration is wrong, especially if there’s no facts to back it up as to why other than ‘people are nervous to be around Asian people.'” 

The Lunar New Year Chinese Temple Bazaar in Queens, New York also canceled their celebrations, even though there are no reported cases of the virus in the state. Various other local New York temples canceled their celebrations as well.

There are now four people who have died from the novel coronavirus worldwide as of Feb. 15, the New York Times reports. That number does not include the people who have died from the virus in China, the source of the outbreak, where about 1,500 people have died. The CDC reported 15 cases in the U.S., as of Feb. 15.

A university senate meeting on Monday, Feb. 3 confirmed that there are officially 36 SBU students still in China due to the coronavirus lockdown. 

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Correction, 2/15/2020 6:00 p.m.: The number of people who died from the coronavirus outside of mainland China was changed from more than 700 to four, as of Feb. 15. More than 700 people were killed by the SARS outbreak in 2003. The number of people who died from the coronavirus in mainland China was also updated from more than 1,000 to about 1,500, and the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was updated from 13 to 15.

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