March 17, 2022

COVID Safety at the 2022 Annual Conference

Executive Director

When we started planning this year's conference, we knew we needed a health protocol system that would give people enough foresight to plan a trip many months in advance. Since people have widely different views on COVID safety, we decided that the best approach is to serve people who are more cautious, recognizing that we’d be asking some people to be more cautious than they felt necessary. We have many attendees in high-risk groups, and we also didn’t know what the COVID situation would be by the time April arrived. All of that seemed to argue for a conservative approach.

We decided to create a testing system of the highest possible standards, which to us meant tests performed quickly by medical professionals, dedicated testing rooms, trained monitors, and a HIPAA-compliant means of verifying test status, and we announced that system on January 27 and have been including it in the appropriate communications.

The emergence of the new Omicron subvariant (BA.2) indicates we cannot yet assume that rates during the conference will be as low as they are as I write this in mid-March. On one hand, several studies from different countries show that BA.2 is more transmissible than prior Omicron subvariants. On the other, existing measures, including vaccinations, lead the New York Times to write on March 17 that although BA.2 may stop the decline in COVID infection rates, “there are a number of reasons to doubt that it will drive a large new spike of cases and hospitalizations.” 

So, both to honor the system we committed to on January 27 and to anticipate any impact from BA.2, we will maintain the plan we originally outlined. 

We know the testing requirements are disruptive for some. We hope you can understand the difficult balancing act we have here given all the uncertainty and, especially, the fact that many in our audience are in high-risk groups. Let us know if you are still in a bind, and we’ll do our best to troubleshoot.

For more information on COVID safety at this year's annual conference, visit the conference's dedicated Travel and Safety page.