Coronavirus: HIMSS health conference canceled

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Canan Emcan, ward manager at the infection ward of the University Hospital Essen, stands in protective clothing and with a breathing mask in an airlock and holds a smear tube in her hands.

Marcel Kusch | picture alliance | Getty Images

HIMSS, a health-technology conference that typically draws tens of thousands of attendees, has been canceled for the first time in more than 50 years.

President Trump was slated to speak at the event about medical technology interoperability and how health tech firms can better work together.

The organizers said in an email to vendors that the cancellation was “unavoidable,” given the ongoing spread of the coronavirus across the United States. Vendors ranging from Amazon to Microsoft told CNBC that they planned to withdraw from the conference earlier this week. More than a dozen other companies followed suit.

HIMSS made the announcement on its website. 

“This will be the first time in 58 years the event has been canceled, 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.” HIMSS’ organizers said in a note sent to attendees on Thursday:

“This action was further informed by concerns received from HIMSS20 attendees, cancellations of similarly sized conferences in the U.S. and globally, as well as a growing volume of confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout the country. In light of these factors, HIMSS has determined it would be an unacceptable risk to bring so many thousands of people together in Orlando next week.”

A spokesperson for HIMSS did not immediately return a request for comment. 

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