NEW YORK - American rock band Pearl Jam announced late Monday they are postponing the first leg of their North American tour this spring over coronavirus concerns.
"Unfortunately, communing in large groups is a huge part of what we do as a band and the tour we've been busy planning for months is now in jeopardy... We have and will always keep the safety and well-being of our supporters as top priority," frontman Eddie Vedder said in a statement on social media.
"So it is with deep frustration and regret that we are forced to make this most unfortunate of announcements... This scheduled first leg of our PJ/Gigaton tour will need to be postponed and shows rescheduled for a later date."
The band's new album "Gigaton" is scheduled for release on March 27. They had planned to embark on a 16-date North American tour in March and April, with destinations including New York's Madison Square Garden.
"We've worked hard with all our management and business associates to find other solutions or options but the levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level," the statement signed by Vedder and the band said.
"Add to that we also have a unique group of passionate fans who travel far and wide. We've always been humbled by this and respect their energies and devotion. However in this case, travel is something to avoid."
He then took a jab at the Donald Trump administration: "It certainly hasn't helped that there's been no clear messages from our government regarding people's safety and our ability to go to work."
"Having no examples of our national health department's ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming weeks ahead."
Stories of new cases flooded in across the country Monday, from a Washington DC church rector to the head of New York's ports authority, while some stores ran out of hand sanitizer and masks. Twenty-six people have now died in the United States after contracting COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Since the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic began, Trump -- who is himself feared to have been exposed to the virus -- has veered between defending his government from accusations of incompetence to accusing Democrats and the media of exaggerating the crisis in an attempt to hurt his standing in an election year.
© Agence France-Presse