Poets & Writers cancels 50th anniversary gala in Manhattan


NEW YORK (AP) – Poets & Writers has called off its 50th anniversary gala, where guests of honor included Oprah Winfrey. The non-profit organization cited the coronavirus outbreak as the reason for cancelling the March 16 gathering in Manhattan.

“We’re sorely disappointed, but made this decision out of a concern for the health and safety of our staff and guests,” Poets & Writers announced Tuesday. Others expected at the gala were Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon and Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch.

The outbreak has prompted many cancellations of public events, including this week’s London Book Fair and National Book Critics Awards ceremony.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

FILE – This Feb. 8, 2020 file photo shows Oprah Winfrey speaking at “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” tour in New York. Winfrey reversed her book club selection of Kate Elizabeth Russell’s upcoming “My Dark Vanessa” after the novel was briefly the subject of online controversy, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. “Ultimately we did not end up moving forward with it as a book club selection,” a spokeswoman for Winfrey said. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)