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AsMA Cancels 2020 Annual Meeting

July 29, 2020

AsMA Cancels 2020 Annual Meeting

For the first time since 1945, near the end of World War II, the Aerospace Medical Association has cancelled its annual scientific meeting.

   Concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic led the Council to discuss this difficult decision out of an abundance of caution and the need to keep our members safe. Atlanta, GA, started its five-phase reopening plan on April 24, 2020. Phase 1 metrics were met and the city entered Phase 2 on June 1, 2020. However, Atlanta was not able to maintain the Phase 2 metrics and the Atlanta Mayor returned the city to Phase 1 (Stay at Home) on July 10, 2020. According to the Atlanta Reopening Plan, small public gatherings with appropriate physical distancing is allowed in Phase 3, medium public gatherings with appropriate physical distancing is allowed in Phase 4, and large public gatherings with appropriate physical distancing is allowed in Phase 5.
    A few weeks ago, Pam Day sent out a survey on behalf of the AsMA Scientific Program Committee to all with accepted scientific abstracts for the May 2020 meeting. Authors were asked if they would: (1) present their paper at the October meeting in Atlanta; (2) record their presentation prior to the October meeting and upload for presentation during the meeting in Atlanta; (3) resubmit their abstract for the 2021 AsMA meeting in Reno, NV; or (4) withdraw their scientific abstract. As of July 28, 2020, approximately 40% of the abstract authors had responded. Here are the results:

  • Posters: 48 responses from 68 possible
    • 10 willing to present in Atlanta
    • 23 resubmit for 2021
    • 5 withdrawn
  • Slides: 72 responses from 147 possible
    • 32 willing to present in Atlanta
    • 10 willing to record their presentations
    • 27 resubmit for 2021
    • 3 withdrawn
  • Panels: 87 responses from 251 possible
    • 46 willing to present in Atlanta
    • 21 willing to record their presentations
    • 23 resubmit for 2021
    • 7 withdrawn
    Based upon this information, the AsMA Council met via Zoom on July 28, 2020, to discuss how to proceed in these unprecedented times. The Council’s top priority was to ensure the health and safety of anyone who participates in the October Annual Scientific Meeting. The fact that on July 28, 2020, the city of Atlanta was still in Phase 1 of the reopening plan did not provide Council members with solid evidence the city would be in Phase 3, 4, or 5 by early October. Another major concern discussed by the AsMA Council was the contract the association had with the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The contract called for financial penalties for AsMA should the contract be cancelled. One way to avoid these stiff penalties was to reschedule the Atlanta meeting to May 2025. Thanks are due to Walt Galanty of Aim Meetings & Events and our Executive Director, Jeff Sventek, for their efforts in renegotiating the contract. AsMA and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta have finalized the 2025 contract. Now that the 2025 contract has been approved and signed, AsMA has cancelled the October 2020 meeting in Atlanta without penalty.
    The Annual Awards, normally presented at during Honors Night Ceremonies at the Annual Meeting, will now be presented during the meeting in Reno, NV, in 2021. The biographies of those remarkable individuals who will receive awards for 2020 will be published in September. 
    Many of the Constituent Organizations within AsMA have already held their business meetings virtually and have either decided to keep their current leadership or have transitioned to the new incoming president and leadership. Biographies of the incoming presidents of the constituent organizations can be found in the July newsletter (https://www.asma.org/asma/media/AsMA/pdf-journal/pdf-news-2020/july-2020_news-opt.pdf) or in the July issue of the journal on pp. 616-618. 
    The Aerospace Medical Association thanks you for your patience as we worked through this in a very deliberate fashion. We wanted to make an informed decision on this important matter. We will be in contact with sponsors, exhibitors, and participants who had previously registered for this year’s annual meeting. In the meantime, we hope you all remain healthy and safe!