–March 13, 2020–
The Planning Committee of the 2020 Western Division annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C. met this morning and has decided to cancel the meeting due to health concerns associated coronavirus (COVID-19). Everyone is in agreement that proactive measures such as social distancing and limiting large gatherings are necessary to slowing the spread of the virus and reducing the strain on our healthcare system. The British Columbia government has also limited gatherings to less than 250 persons.
As such, the Western Division and Washington-British Columbia Chapter of AFS have decided to cancel this year’s meeting in Vancouver, B.C. (April 13 – 17).
Future Meeting Opportunities
The Planning Committee is currently putting together a survey regarding interest in holding a virtual meeting (likely the same dates: April 13-17, 2020) or submitting symposia and abstracts to the 2020 AFS meeting in Columbus, OH (Aug 30 – Sept 3) or the 2021 Washington-British Columbia Chapter meeting (dates and locations TBD). The survey will likely be distributed this weekend, and will close Thursday, March 19th. Any decisions regarding next steps will be made Friday, March 20th.
Registration: For individuals and vendors that have already registered for the meeting, as well as those registering for continuing education courses, we will be giving a 100% refund within 30-days. Please contact Tamara Knudson ([email protected]) if you have not received a refund by April 13th.
Sponsors: We will be in contact meeting sponsors regarding refunds on an individual basis also by April 13th.
Hotel: The Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel has already canceled room reservations under the room block for the meeting. You should have received an email regarding that cancellation; if not, please contact the hotel directly: 1-604-689-9211 (https://www.pinnacleharbourfronthotel.com/)
Again, we apologize for the inconvenience this decision may have caused. If you have any further questions, please contact the meeting co-chairs Brittany Jenewein ([email protected]) and Dan Dauwalter ([email protected]).
—March 6, 2020—
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is raising concerns in our region and worldwide.
The Planning Committee of the Western Division Annual General Meeting is closely monitoring health advisories and travel policies in Washington State and British Columbia associated with COVID-19 to make informed decisions about holding the conference April 13-17, 2020. At this time, we are proceeding with the conference as planned so long as it appears prudent to do so.
While the relevant health authorities have not suggested restrictions or limitations beyond those already in place, we recognize that the situation could change week to week between now and April 13, 2020. Please note that the planning committee cannot respond to individual inquiries at this time. We ask that you check our meeting webpage for regular updates.
Registration and Cancellations
We appreciate that the current situation has left many of you to reconsider attendance at the conference. In light of this, we have decided to extend our earlybird registration deadline to March 20, 2020 to allow potential attendees more time to decide on their attendance and still receive some cost savings. If you decide to cancel your meeting/vendor registration for any reason, whether due to the coronavirus outbreak or otherwise, we respect your decision and would like to remind you of our cancellation policies:
- Up until the earlybird deadline (March 20, 2020), a 50% refund is available
- After the earlybird deadline (March 21, 2020 onward), no refund is available
Due to the commitment we have to the venue and the current cost of the event, we regret that we cannot provide refunds outside of these policies. The Pinnacle Hotel – Harbourfront cancellation policy remains unchanged at this time, which states: Cancellations made within 48 hours from 3PM on the date of arrival will forfeit one night’s room and tax.
Venue Health Environment
To promote a healthy environment at the meeting, we will work with the venue to implement risk-reduction measures, which may include:
- providing hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas
- asking the venue to provide regular cleaning and sanitation of surfaces
- increasing available serving staff at meals/coffee breaks to prevent potential contamination of “open access” foods
Along with public health officials, we urge conference participants to follow the same best practices recommended for a typical flu season, including washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering a sneeze or cough with an elbow or tissue, avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose, and avoiding close contact.
In addition, we respectfully request the following:
- If you are sick or displaying any symptoms of cold or flu (fever, cough, respiratory complaints, etc.), please stay home and take care of yourself. This would be true regardless of the current outbreak situation.
- Please practice good hand washing and cover your cough.
- Funny as it sounds, this is the year to fist or elbow bump rather than shake hands with all your friends and soon to be friends.
As this situation changes daily, we will continue to monitor events closely and take action as appropriate. Thank you for your patience!
For the most up-to-date information regarding the virus, please refer to: