Essence Festival Postponed as Coronavirus Cases Surge in Louisiana

Essence Festival (Credit: Essence/Twitter)

The 2020 Essence Festival of Culture has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this month, festival organizers said they would move forward as planned, and hold the festival from July 1-5 in New Orleans, Louisiana. That changed on Friday evening when New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement saying the festival would be postponed.

“With the significant spread of COVID-19, we are taking every precaution in the best interest of our residents, visitors, and all who attend and make ESSENCE the worldwide phenomenon that it is. We look forward to welcoming everyone back — from near and far — and express our deepest gratitude to all who are helping our city, state and nation get through this rapidly evolving crisis,” Cantrell said.

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Festival organizers followed with a statement on Twitter at 9:37 p.m. ET, saying the event would move to a date closer to the fall.

“Based on developments over the past couple of weeks, including updates from our city and health partners, we are officially announcing that we will move the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture closer to the fall,” the statement said. “As we previously indicated, we were already moving forward with identifying and securing alternate dates and will be prepared to announce those shortly.”

Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson had been set to headline the festival. Once a new date is scheduled, it’s unclear if the lineup will remain the same.

On Friday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released a statement announcing new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, now that it has exploded in the state.

“Louisiana has experienced the fastest rate of increase for confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and it is imperative that everyone in our state take part in the efforts to slow the spread of this disease,” Edwards said.

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As of Friday, there were 2,746 reported cases of COVID-19 and 119 related deaths in the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The situation is particularly bad in New Orleans. In response, the Morial Convention Center — which sheltered residents during the Hurricane Katrina crisis — will be used to house up to 3,000 non-critical COVID-19 patients as area hospitals become swamped.