By Michael Pinchera
A SPECIAL SECTION BROUGHT TO YOU BY MEETING PROFESSIONALS INTERNATIONAL
The American Physical Society (APS) cancelled its March Denver meeting due to novel coronavirus concerns—36 hours before the first sessions were to begin. The group explained this was done “out of an abundance of caution and in line with the public health strategy of containment,” noting that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had increased its risk assessment for China, Italy and South Korea. Of the event’s 10,285 original registrants, approximately 700 were to be coming from one of those countries.
“Even more [attendees] were coming from countries where the virus appears to be establishing itself in the general population, so that the warning level could rise during the course of the meeting, which might significantly delay their return travel or even lead to quarantines,” APS said in a statement elucidating its decision. “APS leadership and planners determined the risk of transmission and infection among closely interacting meeting attendees, staff, vendors and the Denver community was too great to ignore. At a meeting with many thousands of participants, some will inevitably fall ill. Had the meeting proceeded as scheduled, it would take time to establish whether an illness is seasonal flu or COVID-19, and many attendees who have come into contact might need to be quarantined during the testing. Many conference sessions and social events would have had to be canceled out of caution.”