Fears of Coronavirus in Chicago Area Spark Cancellations, Hurt Businesses

From trade shows to hotels and tours—the cost of the coronavirus runs deep

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Fears over the coronavirus have led to the cancellation of the biggest annual trade show at McCormick Place, and soon others may follow as the city misses out on millions of dollars.

An estimated $77 million will be lost after the Inspired home show, originally scheduled to begin on March 14, was canceled.

From trade shows to hotels to tours—the cost of the coronavirus runs deep.

“We’ve been watching this situation unfold for more than a month,” said Vice President of the International Housewares Association Leana Salamah.

In its 82-year history, the Inspired home show - McCormick Place’s largest annual event - has never canceled.

This time though, organizers decided to cancel the show that would have attracted 52,000 visitors to Chicago, with up to 40% of attendees from overseas.

“Looking at bringing 130 countries together in one place right now when you have a virus that seems to pop up somewhere new every day, didn’t seem like a very good idea,” Salamah said.

Show organizers said they’re working with exhibitors to recoup freight and shipping costs.

But the home show isn't only the beginning.

“Basically, our year-long work is being affected,” said Carlos Garcia with the A+ Puerto Rico Educational Tours.

Garcia said his Puerto Rico-based summer tours to Chicago are in limbo and this could be one of his last student groups to visit the city until further notice.

As some students visit the Art Institute of Chicago, the museum has suspended travel for its staff to medium and high-risk locations— like China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Staff travel at the Field Museum has also been suspended to those countries, although both museums say exhibitions and events haven’t been affected.

The Field Museum said it was also taking precautions to ensure facilities were properly disinfected.

Also on Tuesday, the Chicago Roboto Conference—a tech event for android developers from around the world—canceled its downtown event due to the virus. The conference was set to take place in September.

The American Lung Association in Greater Chicago's Fight for Air Climb at the Presidential Towers, which was set to take place Sunday, was also canceled.

“As always, the health and well-being of Lung Association event participants, volunteers, staff and partners, as well as the residents of our host and partner, remains our top priority,” Kristen Young, executive director of the Lung Association, said in a statement. “Presidential Towers has been a partner and host of the Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb for 11 years and we are sensitive to their concerns of those that live in the 2,346 apartments that call Presidential Towers their home."

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