You Ask, I Answer: In-Person Conferences and the Pandemic?

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You Ask, I Answer: In-Person Conferences and the Pandemic?

Stephanie asks, “What will in-person events need to think about, implement and communicate for you to feel comfortable returning to some of your favorite conferences?”

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. For professional advice about COVID-19 please consult a qualified virologist or epidemiologist.

For in-person conferences to be safe, a vaccine needs to be broadly available and attendees screened for it. That’s the necessary level of safety, period. End of story.

There are some measures you could take now to make things less risky, but there’s still an unacceptably high level of risk for large, in-person gatherings. No sane insurance company will insure an event without a vaccine, and no conference should be having an event without insurance. Having an event right now, absent a broadly available vaccine, is willful negligence, and insurance won’t cover that.

You Ask, I Answer: In-Person Conferences and the Pandemic?

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In today’s episode, Stephanie asks what will in person events need to think about implement and communicate for you to feel comfortable returning to some of your favorite conferences.

Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional.

I am a marketer.

I do follow a lot of the medical journals very carefully, but I am still not a medical professional.

So, if you want professional advice, please seek someone who has an actual medical degree in biology or epidemiology.

Now, that’s it.

For in person conferences to be safe.

It’s an important word.

A vaccine needs to be broadly available and attendees screened for it.

That is the necessary level of safety period End of story.

If there’s no vaccine available, a conference isn’t safe.

That’s it.

We know from hundreds of medical professionals from papers and research, etc.

that COVID-19 is an air airborne disease is an aerosol based airborne disease.

As of the time of this recording, which is July 24 2020, there is some consensus that airborne may be the primary method of spread that vectors like droplets and fomites may not be as important as the aerosol components.

So, you’re breathing all the time, you’re going to an event where the primary method of communication is talking.

And conference spaces are not particularly well ventilated.

Which means that you are being exposed and there’s no responsible way to have an event in that atmosphere literally in that atmosphere in that air right.

I have on my desk here a co2 detector, that is detecting the amount of co2 in the air.

Fresh air about 450 parts per million indoors poorly ventilated, it’s going to be higher than that, that a meter like this will tell you very quickly how dense an airspace is if it’s not being ventilated, it will be above 450.

I am sitting here talking at my desk and this is not a large room is a, it’s my basement.

But it’s not a ton of airflow.

It’s very much like an indoor space is an indoor space.

My current co2 from me talking just now is 852 parts per million.

Right? This is a really good proxy for measuring the level of infectivity of the air.


This is devices like 40 bucks on Amazon.

This is not good, right? This fundamentally means if I was in an office space, this whole space would be unsafe, because I’m talking and I’m spraying particles to micro microscopic particles into the air as I speak.

Now if I’m on stage and I’m yelling and I’m you know, talking Allow them as attendees talking to each other.

This mute is going to go to 1000 to 1200 or 1500.

Right? co2 itself is not harmful unless like there’s no other oxygen, but it is a proxy for how much I am emitting into the atmosphere.

And even with really good masks, you’re still getting some spread, right? We know that cloth masks do cut the risk down from, you know, 80% down to, you know, 1.5% on a per person basis.

Right now you put 500 1000 1500 to 4000 people into an airspace and you’re still going to get spread.

There’s there’s no way around that there’s just too many people particularly when you have morons who can’t put a mask on properly.

They were does a chin strap, right, you know, they have their nose exposed and they’re still breathing out, unfiltered air at an event, you cannot control people’s behaviors.

You just can’t Now if you would have an event where it was just presentations only, and people were spaced out, and they would no parties, no meals, no anything, no social gatherings.

Yes, that would be safer.

But also, you may as well just have a virtual event at that point because you’ve taken all of the things that people like to do at events and remove them for their safety, to stay home.

There are no measures that an in person event can take that’s going to create an unacceptable level of risk in person until a vaccine is available.

More important, no insurance company that sane is going to insure an event without a vaccine, right? And no conference should ever be having any kind of event without insurance because having an event without insurance is crazy, right? You just been sued if you lose everything.

When there are legal directives in place, that from government officials, whatever that say, no large gatherings and you host a large gathering You can very easily be sued for willful negligence, right? Could you could someone prove that they caught the virus at your event? Maybe, maybe not.

Can they prove that you had the event in direct opposition of orders from a government health professionals? Absolutely.

And you will get sued.

And even if you win, you still are still getting sued, which is an expensive process.

Right now, without a vaccine having an in person event is willful negligence.

insurance will cover that.


So there’s really no easy way for events to do this.

When a vaccine is available, the number one thing that events will need to do is is to ask, have you been vaccinated.

And you’ll want to talk with your health professionals and your legal professionals about the legality of denying people entrants who are not vaccinated, because again, it’s creating risk.

Now, there there is There is some precedent for you know, not having to do that.

Obviously you go, we have flu vaccines and people do a no get it.

And then if a vaccine is available to everyone, and it’s been in the population, and there is a likely probability that everyone has had the chance to get it, then that relieves your legal obligation, right? Because like the flu vaccine, if you don’t get it, and it’s broadly available that’s on you, the attendee, it’s not on the event.

But for example, again, this is no July, United States just ordered 100 million doses of experimental vaccine from Pfizer.

Some biologists believe that you’re going to need the initial and then a booster sets really only 50 million treatments available to a country of 330 million.

That’s still a very high level of risk for everybody involved.

Can events mandate masks? Yes.

And they should, even with a vaccine ability Because, again, not everyone’s going to get vaccinated, not everyone’s going to, you know, have the opportunity to do so.

But you can absolutely mandate masks still.

And I think that’s gonna be part of the culture for a while.

And you can still recommend that people avoid, you know, close gatherings and things after parties, etc.

Should you be having a party as an event? Now that vaccine? Nope.

So this is what events need to think about.

for the foreseeable near term future until a vaccine is available, you should be a virtual event.

There’s no other way to do it.

That is safe.

That is not willfully negligent, and that it does not pose an unnecessary risk to people and their health and to the people around them.

So that goes back to the previous episode we had on what can event what should businesses be doing in place? Maybe we’ll tackle that in the next episode.

What kind of events be doing Instead, to still offer value and then frankly for event companies will still stay in business.

There are ways to do that.

Having in person events is not one of them.

If you have follow up questions, leave them in the comments box below.

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