White House Correspondents’ Association dinner still a go ‘as of now’
Despite major events — including the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, concert tours and movie releases — getting scrapped and delayed over coronavirus fears, organizers for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner say no changes are being made to the annual gala “as of now.”
The black-tie soiree, known somewhat affectionately as “Nerd Prom,” is poised to take place on April 25 in Washington.
“We are monitoring developments, of course, but have made no changes as of now,” Jonathan Karl, WHCA president and ABC News’s chief White House correspondent, told ITK on Tuesday.
The gathering, which typically is attended by thousands of VIPs and the commander in chief at the Washington Hilton Hotel, although President Trump has never been a guest while in office, is poised to be headlined this year by comedian Hasan Minhaj. “Saturday Night Live’s” Kenan Thompson will serve as host at the dinner, which raises money for journalism scholarships.
Last week, Karl said there had been “no discussion” of a plan B for the lawmaker- and journalist-filled dinner. But that was before a number of high-profile events were scrubbed due to coronavirus concerns.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Gridiron Club and Foundation announced it would not go through with its 135th annual dinner, scheduled for Saturday in downtown Washington.
“Given the concerns over the coronavirus and advice from government officials about avoiding large gatherings, we feel it’s best not to put you or your guests at risk,” the group’s president, Craig Gilbert, said in a statement.
On Friday, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler (D) announced that the city’s famed SXSW, scheduled for this month, would be canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that have issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest this year,” Adler said.
Organizers behind the Coachella music festival, originally scheduled for next month in Indio, Calif., were reportedly prepping Tuesday to announce that it would be pushed to October.
Pearl Jam said on Monday that it was with “deep frustration and regret” that it was postponing the first leg of its upcoming North American concert tour.
“The risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level,” the rock band said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Miley Cyrus also pulled out of a planned benefit concert in Australia, saying Monday that the decision was made “due to the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities, including the Center for Disease Control, to reduce potential health risks in response to the current global health crisis.”
There are more than 600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and at least 22 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.