The American Meteorological Society (AMS) announced today that they are canceling the in-person annual meeting scheduled for this month in Houston, Texas citing ongoing pandemic concerns. The 102nd Annual Meeting consisting of sessions, town hall meetings, short courses, posters, exhibits, and side meetings are going completely virtual this year. However, the 21st Annual AMS Student Conference will remain a hybrid meeting, where attendees can participate in-person or remotely January 22-23.
In a statement released today, the AMS wrote, “The 2022 Overall Planning Committee and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe environment at the conference in Houston for those who felt the risk level was acceptable. However, with the growing surge of the Omicron variant (which is projected to peak at the same time as our annual meeting), we have had a growing number of key individuals and organizations (volunteers, staff, presenters, attendees, vendors, universities, and government organizations) needed to support and contribute to the quality of the in-person meeting opt to participate in the Annual Meeting remotely. It is now clear that we will not have the critical mass of on-site expertise to run the in-person component nor the attendance to provide a quality in-person meeting up to the level that we have all come to expect. Therefore we have come to the difficult conclusion to focus our attention and resources on an all-virtual Annual Meeting and hybrid Student Conference.”
Another high-profile conference that many attend in addition to the AMS event is dealing with with their own COVID outbreak now. The AGU Fall Meeting 2021 for the American Geophysical Union was held in New Orleans, Louisiana December 13-17. According to an update released by the AGU on December 31, the last day they were tracking infections, 94 fully vaccinated conference attendees tested positive for COVID-19. The AGU required every individual to be fully vaccinated if they were in the New Orleans Convention Center (NOCC). This included AGU staff, NOCC staff, and security; they also required masks in the NOCC since they rented the entire facility.
One of the largest conferences in the country in January is also seeing large numbers of people and companies cancel attendance. The 2022 Consumer Electronics Show, or CES 2022 for short, is running now in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 5-7. Some of the biggest names in technology have cancelled their plans to be at the event, including T-Mobile which was due to have its CEO present a keynote speech during the event.
“After careful consideration and discussion, T-Mobile has made the difficult decision to significantly limit our in-person participation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show,” the company said in its statement, also posted on Twitter. “While we are confident that CES organizers are taking exhaustive measures to protect in-person attendees and we had many preventative practices in place as well, we are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision.”
T-Mobile joined Amazon, Meta (Facebook), Pinterest, Twitter, and iHeartRadio in canceling their plans to be a part of this event.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) which runs CES 2022 decided to end their event a day early due to COVID concerns.
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) January 11, 2012
CES is also attended by meteorologists and companies showcasing weather-related technologies. In 2019, IBM used CES to unveil their new weather forecast model. Weather stations, weather radios, and household electronics that perform due to the weather or the forecasts of the weather are often showcased at the electronics show.
All of these events have COVID-19 safety protocols for their attendees. The AGU required that all attendees be vaccinated and wear masks at all times, with the exception being speakers at podiums that had the option to take their masks off. Despite everyone being vaccinated and masked, the COVID continues to grow. CES 2022 requires that all guests be vaccinated and wear masks; earlier this week, they also announced attendees must have negative COVID test results within 24 hours of attending a CES event. CES 2022 is providing some COVID test kits to event attendees.
One other major science conference has decided to completely cancel their January 2022 event. The 239th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society decided to cancel their in-person event scheduled for January 9-13 before the end of 2021. A statement released by the AAS last week said, “The AAS Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to cancel the in-person component of the 239th AAS meeting. The rapid rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and the health risks it poses to our staff, attendees, exhibitors, and support contractors coupled with the likely spread of the virus by attendees to others after the conference was deemed to be too significant a risk to hold the meeting. In addition, international and institutional travel restrictions have already impacted some of our speakers and attendees, limiting their ability to travel to Salt Lake City at all. We have also received and weighed community feedback regarding canceling the in-person meeting, with the majority favoring a cancellation. Most people who submitted feedback also thanked the Board for listening and many recognized the challenging decision they have to make and expressed their support for the Board of Trustees.”