06 Mar Coronavirus vs. Live Events
If you are a citizen of earth, you’ve by now witnessed the growing sense fear and paranoia about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreading across social media and daily life. Amidst the increasing number of canceled conferences and global events, we applaud companies for prioritizing the health and well being of their employees and colleagues over profits. At the same time, without minimizing the threat that Coronavirus poses, we are passionately opposed to the hype and fearmongering, intentional or not, that we’ve witnessed in the media.
Some choice facts:
- The vast majority (81%) of Coronavirus cases are mild.
- The number of cases reported daily in mainland China are falling significantly.
- The CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear a face mask to protect themselves. Save them for health professionals and those who are sick!
- There are zero (0) reported deaths in children under the age of 10.
- The average death rate in individuals under the age of 40 is just 0.2%. For most Americans, the immediate health risk of Coronavirus is considered low by the CDC.
- The case fatality rate (CFR), though it changes everyday due to the newness of the disease, is 2.3% overall, but is even lower outside of mainland China.
- The common flu is responsible for 12,000-61,000 deaths in the US per year. Coronavirus? As of March 9th, only 22.
Where do we go from here?
This is undoubtedly a public health threat that deserves to be taken seriously. But more than the disease itself, fear surrounding Coronavirus has made for a challenging time in the live events and meetings industry. Simultaneously, it presents an opportunity for innovation. In the face of a global health scare mostly out of our control, how can we as event professionals change the status quo? The nature of event production necessitates thinking on our feet and solving problems as they arise—it’s time to realign ourselves to this changing environment and adapt to the situation at hand.
With a few strategic changes, there’s no reason why events can’t go on business as usual. Our job is to produce events in our clients’ best interests, which means helping them stay ahead of the curve during this time—encourage hyper local, regional events and road shows where attendees need only hop in their car to get there. For existing larger scale events, help your clients to develop a protocol to stay safe and healthy. Bump elbows instead of shaking hands. Provide hand sanitizer stations at your events. If a live event is no longer possible, consider trying out out hosting virtual events for the time being.
Take a deep breath. Stay home if you are sick. Protect yourself (and your mental health) with facts, not face masks. Grant yourself peace of mind that health professionals are working around the clock to contain and stamp out this disease. In time, Coronavirus will join the likes of Swine Flu, ZIKA and others as a distant memory. In the meantime, keep calm and wash your hands (often, and with soap & water, for at least 20 seconds).