The Lunar New Year Parade in Manhattan's Chinatown is still scheduled for Sunday, but community members and leaders are saddened that fear of the new coronavirus may keep the usual throngs of people away.
On Friday morning, the normally bustling streets of Mulberry and Mott were unusually quiet.
"Business has been off because of this virus situation," said Philip Seid, the owner of the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
But Seid remains upbeat. His daughter and grandkids will attend the parade, and he hopes many others will too; he plans to be open for business.
"It'll be a great new year's and I don't think it'll be that good to overly worry about this," Seid said. "Keep the habits of cleanliness and sanitation and I think everyone will be fine."
Some proof that Chinatown isn't as busy as usual: it was no problem finding a parking spot on this day, and no problem crossing Chinatown in under 20 minutes.
Democrat John Liu, whom represents parts of Queens in the state Senate, plans to be at the parade Sunday, and urges the public to keep perspective.
"Look at the regular flu. Even the health department, they say very clearly: in any given year, you can fully expect, unfortunately, fully expect 450…to 1,700 people dying from the regular flu in the city," Liu said.
"We have to see this new coronavirus in the grand scheme of everything else," the state senator continued. "Be safe, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into the insides of your elbows."
So far, the virus has sickened more than 31,000 people and killed more than 600, virtually all in China.
Mary Cheng is a director with the Chinese American Planning Council, running social programs for kids. She gets steady calls from parents panicked over rumors.
"I think the number one rumor that they have is this idea that it's going to be fast-acting…and anybody who's come back from China is infected," she explained. "We're trying to explain to them that this is a virus, and although it's a new virus, it's like any other virus."
Not one case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in New York state.
The Lunar New Year Parade begins 1 p.m. Sunday, at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets.