Fear of coronavirus looms over Chinese New Year parade, officials say there's no risk of contracting virus

On San Francisco's Pier 54, float makers were working methodically Thursday to have everything drilled, wired and decorated in time for Saturday's Lunar New Year's parade. There will be 18 floats in all.

The parade through Chinatown typically attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

It's the largest Lunar New Year parade outside Asia.

But this year fear of the coronavirus looms over the celebration.

City leaders and public health officials are offering assurances that there is no need to stay home, that it is safe to attend the parade.

"People are concerned and fearful. The key thing to remember is no newly diagnosed coronavirus cases in San Francisco," said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco's public health director. 

Colfax says public health is working closely with other departments and agencies, monitoring the coronavirus..

Two patients from San Benito County are being treated at UCSF. Two other cases are reported in Santa Clara County.

"The creation of this fear is unfounded. There are more people getting hit by cars right now then people getting this," said Board of Supervisor President Norman Yee.

But the coronavirus has sparked an anti-Asian backlash particularly on social media. And there are reports some ride sharing drivers were refusing to pick up Asian people at airports.

"We need to stand up and say this is not acceptable." Yee said.

Some Chinatown businesses have reported a drop in customers since news of the virus began.

No one is saying if the scare will affect attendance at the parade.