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Facing an increasingly vocal public backlash, Emerald City Comic Con says it will postpone the giant Seattle fan convention to the summer amid growing public concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Seattle region.

“We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed,” ECCC organizer Reedpop said in an email to attendees and an online post minutes ago. The message said the decision was made “after many hours of conversation internally and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau.”

Nearly 100,000 people were expected at the event, which was originally slated for March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention Center. ReedPOP is promising automatic refunds to ticket holders, saying they will be processed within 30 days.

Earlier this week, organizers had offered ticket refunds but said they planned to continue with the event, sparking an outcry including an online petition calling on the city and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to step in and cancel the event.

On Friday morning, announcing the decision to postpone ECCC to the summer, Reedpop noted the economic impact of the move.

“We know that this decision is going to greatly impact many of our individual creators, small businesses and service workers,” the message says. “To those whose careers depend on ECCC – we will do everything that we can over the coming days and weeks to highlight your work and we ask that our entire community support you as we realize your personal livelihoods may be impacted.”

It’s the latest major event to be canceled due to coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, and for which there is no available vaccine. Washington state and the Seattle region have emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States in recent weeks.

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