Saturday, February 29, 2020

APS March Meeting cancelled

Hello all - I have just heard from Dan Arovas, program chair of the APS March Meeting, that the APS has decided to cancel the meeting, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow: "Just finished a Zoom meeting with APS CEO Kate Kirby, APS presidential line, secretary treasurer, counselor. APS is preparing a statement for release to the press. Right now you can help by informing all your students, postdocs, and colleagues. The web site will be updated as soon as possible."

This is a response to COVID19. As I post this, the meeting website has not yet been updated.  I will post more when I learn more.

Update: The text of the APS email: "Due to rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver, CO, has been canceled. Please do not travel to Denver to attend the March Meeting. More information will follow shortly."

Update: APS website now confirms.

Update: Here is the text of the letter from the APS president and CEO about the decision.
To the Board, the Council and Unit Leaders of APS:
You have probably already heard that on Saturday, February 29, the APS Leadership decided to cancel the 2020 March Meeting in Denver. We are writing to give you some of the details that led to this difficult decision, which was made in consultation with the APS senior management and the March Meeting program chair.
APS leadership has been monitoring the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the days leading up to the meeting. As you know, a large number of March Meeting attendees come from outside the US. Many have already canceled their attendance, particularly those from China, where travel to the meeting is not currently possible. In addition, we had many planning to come from countries where the CDC has upgraded its warning to level 3 as recently as the day of our decision, yesterday February 29. Even more were coming from countries where the virus appears to be establishing itself in the general population, so that the warning level could rise during the course of our meeting, which might significantly delay their return travel or even lead to quarantines.
In this case the safety of the attendees has to be a primary concern. There is a reasonable expectation that in a meeting with many thousands of participants, some will fall ill. This always happens of course, but it presently takes some time to establish whether an illness is seasonal flu or COVID-19, and many attendees who have come into contact might need to be quarantined during the testing. In light of this danger, we realized that ordinary social events such as the evening receptions would have to be cancelled out of caution.
We appreciate the high cost of our decision, both for the APS and also the attendees. We don’t know the actual loss yet, but the APS portion alone is certain to be in the millions of dollars. We want to assure the APS Board, Council, and Unit Leaders, that we have considered this carefully. Our society is strong financially, and we can absorb this loss. The welfare of our community is certainly a greater concern.
We know you have many questions about the path forward following this decision. We will continue to communicate and confer with you regularly in the coming weeks, as we all come to terms with the need to find new ways to maintain strong international science contacts.
Phil Bucksbaum, APS President
Kate Kirby, APS CEO


Anonymous said...

Wow, has the March Meeting ever been cancelled outright like this before?

thm said...

The closest analog I can think of is that APS did not cancel the 2010 "April" Meeting, Held Feb 13--16th in Washington DC, which was right after Snowmageddon: Snoverkill.

Anonymous said...

That's very sudden, but understandable given how uncontrollable the situation is. Hopefully there aren't too many international travelers already on their way.

Anonymous said...

Must have been a hard decision for the APS organizers, but it's for the best. A lot of attendees are angry about wasted time and money, but they need to realize this infectious disease is a much, much bigger problem than a small physics conference.

Welcome to the real world physicists!

Anonymous said...

Updated email: More Information on 2020 APS March Meeting Cancellation

"It is with deep regret that we are informing you of the cancellation of the 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver, Colorado. APS leadership has been monitoring the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) constantly. The decision to cancel was based on the latest scientific data being reported, and the fact that a large number of attendees at this meeting are coming from outside the US, including countries where the CDC upgraded its warning to level 3 as recently as Saturday, February 29.

Please wait for APS staff to be in touch with you in order to arrange for a full refund of your registration fees. The situation with hotels is more complicated, and we ask your forbearance as APS looks into what is possible regarding hotel cancellation fees. Please check the March Meeting website in several days or a week for further information.

We recognize that the timing of this decision has significantly inconvenienced many of you. However, this decision was made out of deep concern for the health and well-being of our registrants, staff, vendors, and the Denver community."

Anonymous said...

Fuck you idiot. They could take the decision some days in advance...

Anonymous said...

I am in Denver now so refunding the registration fee is nothing. What a disaster. This decision had to be taken at least one week ago. I want to see the resignation of some of this idiot guys.

Anonymous said...

Yep, typical APS. Indecision until it is too late.

DaveC said...

I and my colleagues and students were already in Denver. People were arriving at our hotel from Germany, Israel etc. I had to spend a fortune on flights home. I think the decision was a bad one, but most importantly if they'd just announced it one or two days earlier it would have been far less of a disaster. I guess the APS is kind of like a slime mold without a proper nervous system, so this is typical, but it's just insane anyway!

Douglas Natelson said...

Clearly everyone would have been happier if they'd made the decision earlier. I am told that "The Colorado Department of Public Health replied to the APS Meetings Department this morning [Monday, March 2] concerning its (Saturday) query about holding the March Meeting. An epidemiologist responded that there were no provisions at airports to manage travelers who came in from afflicted countries, and none in place to screen them when they came into Denver, so the meeting would have been at (greater) risk."

Anonymous said...

Yes, lots of IEEE cancellations too, but at least they did that sufficiently in advance.

As Doug's last comment from Dept. of Public Health shows - We all have to thank the very stable genius for his excellent strategic planning and thoughtfulness in managing America through the risk (which has been known for months, and quite expected).

atyy said...

I think the cancellation was a socially responsible decision. The fatality rate likely depends on the ability of the healthcare system to cope, and by helping to slow the spread, lives can be saved by making sure that hospitals have enough space, staff and equipment to aggressively support the critically ill.