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A Cautionary Tale: Industry Event Reports Covid-Positive Attendees

For an event in Florida, one organization sets its coronavirus communication plan in motion.

As in-person events return, meeting professionals need to have their Covid-19 risk management playbook at the ready, not only to deal with social-distancing concerns on-site, but for possible follow up after the fact if an attendee comes down with the virus. One meetings industry event is facing that exact situation.

Connect Marketplace, which was held October 19-21 at the Orlando Marriott World Center in Orlando, Fla., has written to attendees this week letting them know they may have been exposed to the virus. The letter, posted by several people on Facebook, read in part, “We are writing today because we have received information indicating that three Connect Marketplace attendees tested positive for Covid-19 three or more days after returning from the event. …Because of the protections that were in place at the event, none of the attendees, including you, should meet the definition of ‘close contact’ under the CDC guidelines, however we wanted to provide you with this notice as a courtesy. We encourage you to take all precautions that you believe are appropriate, which may include self-monitoring for symptoms and seeking out testing.”

The event organizers note in their letter to attendees that their on-site precautions included symptom screening and temperature checks, mandatory face masks, social distancing, boxed meals, and hand washing and glove stations throughout the event space. During the event, no one failed the temperature checks or reported any symptoms.

While the three who have tested positive could have picked up the virus at any number of places unconnected to the Connect Marketplace event, their attendance places a responsibility on the meeting professional for full transparency and timely communications. Coronavirus is highly contagious and can be passed by asymptomatic carriers.

The news about Connect Marketplace comes just days before the start of Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress, in Grapevine, Texas. This hybrid event, with the theme Unite for Recovery, is expected to draw hundreds in-person for three days of education and networking.

For guidance on how to handle sick attendees on site, conduct contact tracing, and communicate the situation to your entire audience during and after an event, read this recent MeetingsNet article.

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