The outbreak of the coronavirus comes at a time when Chinese people abroad and in the United States are in the midst of their Lunar New Year celebrations.
In western Washington Saturday, one event went forward while another was canceled due to concerns about the virus.
The event at the Wing Luke Museum featured dragon and lion dances outside on the street in Seattle's Chinatown International District. For the museum, it's a chance for celebration and education.
“Lunar New Year is a big change, this is how you start off the rest of your year,” Maya Hayashi explained. “So it’s really important for families to come together, eat delicious foods, kind of bring inauspicious items as food or decorations into their life to make sure they're starting out the year with a great start and lot of a lot of luck.”
But about 15 miles away, the drums were silent in Sammamish and there were no dragon or lion dances. Event organizers decided to cancel the events "out of an abundance of caution."
"Due to the recent public health concern in the region, community organizers have decided to take precautionary measures and be sensitive to the community by canceling all performances, activities, and events for the day," read a statement on the event.
At the Wing Luke Museum, Ken Lee spent the day at the event with his family and he wondered if the coronavirus had an impact on their celebration.
"It wasn't as busy as I thought it was going to be because of everything going on with the virus,” he explained. “I kind of assumed it wasn't as crowded because of that but it was still a huge turnout.”
Lee and his family saw people wearing masks at the event but decided not to. “Let's go out and celebrate and not be locked up in our house scared," he said.
The museum's collection features some lion masks, which are generally used as part of a lion dance. It’s an important part of the celebration that's thought to scare away bad energies from the last year.
That's something some in the group at the museum was happy to see with talk of the virus looming.
But despite those concerns, the celebration and hope for a New Year must go on.
“I still think in China there are people coming together despite the fears surrounding the outbreak,” Hayashi said.