DETROIT -- The move of the Detroit auto show to June, now rescheduled for June 2021, may have helped slow the spread of COVID-19.
The city could have encountered an outbreak similar to what happened in New Orleans after its annual Mardi Gras celebration in February, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The auto show, traditionally held in January, theoretically would have taken place at a vulnerable time during the spread of the disease from overseas to the U.S.
Many events in the U.S. were not canceled due to COVID-19 until March.
"It could've been a catastrophe," Dr. Peter Gulick, an infectious disease specialist at Michigan State University, told the Free Press. "It was an environment for disaster. Detroit could've been the epicenter of COVID-19 for the whole country."
Mardi Gras attracted about 1.4 million people to New Orleans, which now has the worst coronavirus death rate and is a growing hot spot, according to The Wall Street Journal. Louisiana now has over 14,000 cases of COVID-19 and is fifth in the U.S. in the number of cases.
The 2020 Detroit show was canceled March 28 and the host facility, TCF Center, formerly Cobo Center, is being converted to a field hospital.
Detroit is still a hot spot for the disease.
The city has by far the largest number of cases and deaths in Michigan. As of Monday, the number of cases in the city topped 5,000, with 193 deaths.
Last year, the auto show sold nearly 800,000 tickets.
Crain's Detroit Business contributed to this report.