Ultra Music Festival to go ahead despite coronavirus concerns

Miami officials prepare for 170,000 at Ultra; about 1 million at Calle Ocho Festival

MIAMI – As the coronavirus outbreak affects events worldwide, Miami officials are preparing for the Ultra Music Festival and the Calle Ocho Festival crowds later this month in downtown Miami and Little Havana.

Last year, about 170,000 electronic music fans from more than 100 countries were at Virginia Key for Ultra and about one million people visited Little Havana during Calle Ocho.

The coronavirus outbreak started in China two months ago and it has continued to spread. The World Health Organization reported on Monday about nine times more cases have been reported outside of China over the past 24 hours.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said it’s not time to panic and he and his team are monitoring the situation “day by day.” In the case of Calle Ocho, an event that attracted about a million people last year, Suarez said the city is increasing preparations.

Suarez and members of the city’s emergency management team are ramping up preparations. Officials recently discussed preventive measures and new protocols for Miami Fire Rescue personnel and Miami police officers during UMF and Calle Ocho. There are no reported cases of the virus in Miami-Dade County.

In Florida, officials declared a public health emergency on Sunday reporting two people tested positive for the virus in Manatee and Hillsborough counties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the cases on Monday.

According to Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida’s surgeon general, one patient is a woman in her 20s who traveled to Italy and the other is a man in his 60s who is not a travel-related case.

“It is not known how this individual was exposed to COVID-19,” Rivkees said during a Monday news conference. “This is a rapidly evolving situation.”

The case could be a sign that community spread has started in the area.

Aside from the two cases in Florida, health officials also reported new clusters in New York, Berlin and Moscow and an expansion of the outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran.

Rivkees asked anyone who has traveled to Italy, South Korea, Iran and China to isolate for 14 days and notify public health officials.

Ultra will be held at Bayfront Park from Friday, March 20, to Sunday, March 22. Calle Ocho will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, March 15, on Eighth Street from Southwest 12th to 27th avenues.

About the Authors:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.