It's hard to believe that just a couple weeks ago, most Americans were going about business as usual despite news stories beginning to proliferate about the potentially disastrous consequences of coronavirus landing in the States. But as the spread of COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated, attitudes have quickly shifted, from "hmm, sounds lousy, but not my problem" to hoarding of toilet paper and canned food to the closures of schools, offices, music venues, and other public spaces.
Now, in the wake of news that festivals like Miami Ultra and Austin's SXSW will be canceled due to concerns surrounding the virus, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is reportedly following suit. With these festivals drawing hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the world, officials are worried that they might become high-risk events for transmission of the highly infectious disease.
According to Billboard, organizers for the festival—which has been set to kick off April 10 and continue the following weekend, through April 19—are hoping to get ahead of a forced last-minute cancellation by scrambling to reschedule the event for the weekends of October 9 and October 16. Goldenvoice, the AEG-owned group promoting the festival has reportedly been finalizing talks for rescheduling since Sunday.
Organizers are likely in a panic spiral, as the hundreds of artists, vendors, and contractors currently booked for next month may not have availability in the fall, and Goldenvoice is under pressure to come to a final decision within 48 hours. This year's lineup is stacked with big-name, rarely seen headliners like Rage Against the Machine and Frank Ocean, as well as other major artists such as Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey, Run the Jewels, 21 Savage, and Lil Uzi Vert.
If rescheduling fails, Coachella may suffer the same fate as SXSW: being canceled entirely. A Change.org petition launched last week calling for the festival's cancellation has received nearly 17,000 signatures. A rival petition calling for the festival to go on as usual has received just under 4,000 signatures as of this writing.
In Riverside County, where the festival grounds are located, there are currently at least three confirmed cases of COVID-19 that have been publicly announced. Stagecoach Festival—which is held at the same venue, Indio's Empire Polo fields—may also be rescheduled to late October.