A SARS-CoV-2 virion with a 2020 calendar (Credit: U.C. Davis)

The virus that causes Covid-19 pneumonia is starting to eat away at the life, health and benefits event calendar.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group for health insurers, announced Friday that it has canceled two major events: the 2020 National Health Policy Conference and the National Conference on the Individual and Small Group Market.

Both events were set to take place in Washington starting March 18.

Matt Eyles, AHIP’s president, said in a statement about the cancellation decision that the health and safety of the conference speakers, attendees and staff come first.

“That’s why we are taking this proactive, preventative action,” Eyles said.

More information about the event cancellations is available here.

The SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak

Business and political conferences have played a prominent role in the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, in the United States.

State health officials in Massachusetts have identified 23 laboratory-confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections related to an employee conference Biogen, a biotech company, held in Boston in February, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

An attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which took place in National Harbor, Maryland, in February, had a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Several other well-known attendees, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. have said that they have made voluntary decisions to quarantine themselves, to reduce the possibility that they could spread the virus to others.

The United States now has had a total of 565 laboratory-confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and 17 of the U.S. people known to have had SARS-CoV-2 infections have died, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The current U.S. SARS-CoV-2 fatality rate is about 3.4%.

Other Event Cancellations and Changes

AHIP is just one of the industry organizations canceling major events, or converting the events into “virtual,” web-based gatherings.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Inc. is canceling the vast in-person 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Education with a virtual event.

The event was set to start today in Orlando, Florida.

This is the first time in 58 years that HIMSS has canceled its annual conference.

“Based on evaluation of evolving circumstances and coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professionals to support evidence-based decision-making, it is clear that it would be an unacceptable risk to bring so many thousands of people together in Orlando,” HIMSS President Hal Wolf said in a comment about the decision to cancel the in-person gathering.

More information about the cancellation of the in-person gathering is available here.

Alegeus, a health and benefits account services company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is canceling the in-person version of a three client conference that was set to start April 15 in Las Vegas and replacing the in-person event with a virtual event.

“Although this decision to cancel was difficult, we believe it is unavoidable in order to protect the health and safety of our extended Alegeus family,” Alegeus said in a comment about the decision to cancel the in-person event. “Keeping our family safe comes before all business interests. We recognize that the city of Las Vegas is a major international travel destination, which may pose increased risk to the health of our attendees. Therefore, we feel we cannot, in good conscience, proceed with our conference as planned, as it would pose an unacceptable risk to our clients, prospects, partners, and staff.”

More information about the cancellation of the in-person gathering is available here.

 

Benefitfocus, a benefits administration services company based in Charleston, South Carolina, has canceled the in-person version of One Place 2020, three-day annual conference that was set to start March 17 in Charleston.

The company will be replacing the in-person event with a virtual conference.

“With the growing spread of the coronavirus and the uncertainty surrounding it, we have decided to shift One Place 2020 to be a digital conference,” Benefitfocus President Ray August said in a comment about the cancellation of the in-person event. “I’m looking forward to our team delivering the innovation and announcements we had originally planned in an exciting new way online.”

More information about the cancellation of the in-person gathering is available here.

— Read Health Insurers Mobilize for the Covid-19 Fighton ThinkAdvisor.

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