COVID-19 Shutters HIMSS 2020 Global Health Conference

March 5, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

Annual meeting canceled amid global viral outbreak.

The announcement came Thursday that HIMSS will cancel its 2020 Global Health Conference & Exhibition. The decision comes on the tail of recent reports from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention on the spread and impact of COVID-19.

As of yet, no rescheduling information has been released. But, according to the organization, a lack of suitable venues and the difficulty in coordinating speaker and exhibitor availabilities make it unlikely that the conference will be rescheduled for later this year.

HIMSS officials cited an increased understanding of the potential spread of the virus over the past 24 hours, as well as the unique medical profile of conference attendees as underlying reasons to cancel. With these factors in play, they said, it isn’t currently possible to fully assess the risks posed to participants, and continuing as planned could have placed undo stress on the local health system in Orlando.

This will be the first time in 58 years HIMSS will have canceled the event, and Hal Wolf, HIMSS president and CEO acknowledged all the effort behind planning the conference until this point.

“We recognize all the hard work that so many have put into preparing for their presentations and panels that accompany every HIMSS conference,” he said. “Based on evaluation of evolving circumstances and coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professional 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 next week.”

HIMSS officials have posted additional information about travel and registration reimbursements on its website.