Feature | ACC | February 22, 2021

ACC Abandons In-person Meeting and Goes Entirely Virtual for 2021 Due to COVID

ACC Abandons In-person Meeting and Goes Entirely Virtual for 2021 Due to COVID

February 22, 2021 — The American College of Cardiology (ACC) moved its meeting from March to May 2021 in hopes that COVID concerns would subside by then and vaccinations would play a key role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, the ACC announced today it is clear this is not happening, so it is going to an entirely virtual format for a second year. 

"The college was hopeful that delaying the meeting until the spring would allow an opportunity for ACC and its membership to safely reconnect in Atlanta, Ga., for the 70th Annual Scientific Session and Expo. Unfortunately, with the continued presence of COVID-19 and a sudden, sharp increase in ongoing travel restrictions imposed by healthcare institutions, academic medical centers and exhibitor companies, the decision has had to be made to transition the meeting from a hybrid model to entirely virtual," said a statement from Pamela B. Morris, M.D., FACC, ACC.21 chair, and Douglas E. Drachman, M.D., FACC, the ACC.21 vice chair. 

The event, set for May 15-17, 2021, was supposed to be in-person with a virtual component for this who could not, or did not want to attend in person. However, there has been apprehension from vendors to attend medical conferences again until the doctors and other hospital staff are allowed to attend. Many hospitals and healthcare systems continue to have travel bans in place for their staff as part of their pandemic containment strategy. Part of the reason for travel bans also ensures all staff are available locally in case of implementing emergency plans if COVID cases suddenly rise. 

ACC said it is now focusing efforts on creating an all virtual experience. Morris said ACC.21 will be a world-class program delivered through an innovative digital platform built for learning, collaboration and networking. ACC.21 will also offer a robust virtual expo with both exhibits and education from Learning Destinations.

In 2020, ACC decided to cancel the in-person meeting less than a month from the conference. It quickly had to reorganize a scaled back virtual meeting in just three weeks. 

COVID Vaccines Still Unavailable for Vendors and Convention Staff

While there are high hopes that the vaccines will allow clinicians to attend in-person meetings, non-clinical vendor attendees and the large support staffs needed to organize and run inperson conferences may not qualify to receive the vaccine for months. Some estimates place vaccine availability for non-essential workers and healthy individuals under age 65 may not be possibly until this summer or fall.

Most cardiology societies decided early on not to chance an in-person meeting, including EHRA, SCAI, EuroCMR, ASE, SCCT and ESC, which are all planning virtual meetings in 2021. HRS is planning a hybrid meeting, with virtual courses June 30 and an in-person meeting July 28-31 in Boston. Other organizations are still waiting to see what happens with the virus during the first part of the year before deciding on whether to host in-person meetings in the fall of 2021. 

For more information on ACC.21: https://accscientificsession.acc.org/?utm_campaign=acc21&utm_medium=email_newsletter&utm_source=acc21update&utm_content=A21125

Virtual Cardiology Meetings During COVID-19 Allowing More International Attendance

VIDEO: Insights Into How HRS Organized its Virtual Meeting — a discussion with Andrew D. Krahn, M.D. on lessons learned from the 2020 Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) virtual meeting.

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