For those, especially in official positions, who claim that the coronavirus outbreak is no big deal, a political hoax or an intentionally fabricated news story, consider this: Two of the world’s major automobile shows have now pulled the plug on their intended salons as the enormous scope of the crisis becomes clear. First, it was the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, which was cancelled entirely. Then yesterday, the organizers of the New York International Auto Show announced that the huge event, which ordinarily kicks off in April, has been postponed to new dates of August 28th through September 6th. The announcement followed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s declaration of a state of emergency and established a mile-square containment zone in New Rochelle, just outside New York City, where a cluster of coronavirus cases have been identified.
The New York show is huge, taking up the sprawling Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side, and is normally the venue for a slate of new-model introductions. It’s important to view all this not just in the context of the automotive world – automakers’ supply chains are going to be very significantly impacted by the outbreak as it worsens, which it will – but to consider its implications for life in general. Examples: What’s going to happen to Broadway in New York City, where dozens of shows are now in production? What about the NCAA basketball tournament, March Madness, which tips off two weeks from now? And in two months, there’s the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500, the latter of which traditionally packs in something like 300,000 people. It’s not fake, folks, and anybody who suggests it is for cynical purposes is doing an enormous public disservice and needs to be called out on it, right now.