The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has announced the cancellation of its annual meeting scheduled to begin March 28 in Chicago. ACC 2020 is the latest in what's become a slew of medical conferences to be canceled in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a March 9 press release, the ACC called the decision "difficult and unprecedented" but said it was necessary in light of the "increasing number of travel advisories and restrictions being placed on healthcare providers and hospitals and institutions in the U.S. and globally."
"The health, safety and well-being of our members, staff, exhibitors, faculty, and other stakeholders is of paramount importance," said ACC President Dr. Richard Kovacs. "With an ever-increasing number of ACC members on the front lines of preparing and reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel the meeting and ensure our members are able to do what they do best -- help and heal."
ACC said that it hopes to host virtual presentations over the meeting's scheduled days of March 28-30, and web-based press conferences scheduled for March 11 and March 17 would go forward, along with information on virtual content. Existing embargoes for scientific presentations and plans for simultaneous publications remain in place. ACC has also posted an FAQ page on its website.
On the FAQ page, the ACC stated that due to the size of the meeting and the fact that it was planned years in advance, rescheduling the event is not an option. The ACC will not provide refunds for airfare or hotel costs. ACC attendees who booked rooms through the group's official housing block will have their reservations canceled automatically by Experient, the third-party vendor that handles reservations for the society.
While the ACC does not usually provide refunds for exhibitors who cancel their booth space, the group said that policy will be relaxed for ACC 2020, and exhibition costs will be refunded in full. The ACC will forward more information to exhibitors shortly.
The ACC is only the latest healthcare meeting to be canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the Society of Interventional Radiology, the European Congress of Radiology, and numerous other smaller meetings have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The American Board of Radiology also canceled exam dates for April.