Miami officials looking to postpone Ultra Music Festival amid growing concerns over coronavirus

City mayor, commissioner discuss suspending Ultra to later date

Citing public safety concerns, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City Commissioner Joe Carollo say they are in conversations with Ultra Music Festival organizers.

MIAMI – Citing public safety concerns, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City Commissioner Joe Carollo say they are in conversations with Ultra Music Festival organizers.

They are discussing postponing the annual concert festival that attracts visitors from across the globe.

This comes as concern continues to grow over the rising number of coronavirus cases globally, domestically and locally, in South Florida.

“(Ultra) brings in people from 100 different countries," said Carollo. “They gather in a very congested area, where there is very limited movement.”

"We will discuss the possibility of postponing the event similar to what they have done in other parts in the world," added Suarez.

That is a reference to Ultra Abu Dhabi, which recently cancelled the Middle East's version of Miami's Bayfront Park festival.

"We are not saying canceling, we are saying suspending to a later date when we have a better idea of where we are heading with the Coronavirus," Carollo said.

Late Wednesday, Suarez confirmed to Local 10 News that Calle Ocho, scheduled for March 15, is also under consideration for possible postponement or cancellation, as the event is under City of Miami control.

A final decision on Calle Ocho has not been made, according to Suarez.

Suarez and Carollo’s decision to engage in talks with Ultra comes on the heels of Miami-Dade County Commissioners deciding not to cancel upcoming spring events.

A Miami-Dade County spokesperson told Local 10 News "Mayor Gimenez told the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday that based on low-risk levels of COVID-19 for U.S. reported by federal and state health officials, the County would not be cancelling major events at this time. However, Mayor Gimenez stresses that local jurisdictions like Miami have a right to cancel events if they deem that action appropriate."

Additionally, the county spokesperson said they are monitoring all information from federal and state health authorities for any changes in risk levels, and that protocols would be altered, as needed.

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A similar message was delivered by the city officials speaking Wednesday.

"We are taking responsibility and action in what we control," Carollo said. "Ultra is certainly under our control and other events within our city.”

The mayor said it appears both sides are working towards a resolution, and an announcement is planned for Friday at 9 a.m.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Miami Herald reported that the festival will be postponed, possibly for as long as a year, essentially cancelling the event for 2020.

One of South Florida's premiere infectious disease experts spoke with Local 10 News' Christina Vazquez about the unique public safety threat that comes with an event like Ultra.

“Ultra presents an unacceptable risk to the elderly. People will be coming from over 100 countries mixing with our population and if there are infected individuals in the crowd then members from our community may acquire the virus, and potentially bring the virus of COVID-19 home to their elderly neighbors and relatives,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at FIU’s Department of Medicine at the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, “if you conduct mass gatherings you are putting economics over public safety.”

She also added that the true morality rate for adults over 80 is 14.8-20%.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."