Coronavirus fears changing some lunar new year plans

Worldwide more than 200 people have died from the coronavirus and more than 11,000 people have gotten sick, but officials still say the coronavirus threat in the United States is low.

However, that hasn't eased concerns about the virus within Asian-American communities.
Lunar New Year festivals have been called off in several states including New York and California, but in Houston, the celebrations continue.

Flags and floats strolled through the streets of Alief Saturday morning for the 2020 International Lunar New Year parade.

"We don’t have anyone affected by the disease here in Houston, so we don’t let that fear stop us from anything,” says parade organizer Hoa On of The Elegance of Flowers Shop. 

Some are taking precautions by skipping out on larger celebrations.

"We try to avoid a crowd,” says Ba Truong who is attending for the first time.

"It’s not really crowded here, but the Temple, yeah,” he adds, "we’re not going there!”

Onlookers dot Bellaire Boulevard, and organizers admit that the crowd is thinner than usual.

"My wife had some concerns coming,” says another parade watcher Leo Do. “But we believe the U.S. has enough protection for its citizens, so I’m not worried about it yet.”

Although the father feels safe in Houston, there are concerns for his mother who is traveling to Texas from Vietnam where a sixth case has been confirmed, and she tells him panic has led to a shortage in face masks.

"The markets are increasing the price on the face covers because everybody’s trying to go to the stores to get the face masks to protect themselves from catching the virus,” says Do. 

Back in Houston, the "year of the rat" continues to mean prosperity for marchers who remain upbeat, hoping this new beginning brings a vaccine to stop the virus from spreading.

"We always have a thing that we should worry about,” says On. "We should be taking precautions and thinking about prevention but don’t let that scare you,” she says.