For the first time in over 50 years, the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition —an event that was expected to draw more than 45,000 health IT leaders to Orlando, Fla., from March 9 to 13 — has been canceled.
HIMSS, which had been monitoring the rapidly advancing coronavirus situation for weeks, confirmed that the decision to cancel was based on new reports from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Chicago-based nonprofit made the announcement on its website on Thursday afternoon.
“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 next week,” Hal Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS, said in the online announcement.
The external advisory panel noted that the industry’s understanding of the virus’s potential reach has greatly changed in the past 24 hours, “which has made it impossible to accurately assess risk.” Additionally, the announcement cited concerns about “disproportionate risk to the healthcare system” and potentially displacing industry workers during this critical time of need.
In their website announcement, HIMSS organizers stated: “This will be the first time in 58 years the event has been cancelled, but it is now clear that cancellation is unavoidable in order to meet HIMSS’ obligation to protect the health and safety of the global HIMSS community, employees and local residents, as well as for the healthcare providers tasked with keeping our U.S. and global communities healthy.”