March 9, 2020 — Less than week after the American College of Cardiology (ACC) said it would push ahead with holding its large 2020 annual meeting March 28-30 in Chicago, amid other medical conferences cancelling due to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), ACC announced today it cancelled the 2020 meeting.
"After careful consideration, the college has made the difficult decision to cancel ACC.20/WCC in Chicago," said ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, M.D., FACC. "Our decision to cancel our flagship annual event was not taken lightly. The ACC has been closely monitoring updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as state and local governments. In the last week, we've also learned of the increasing number of travel advisories and restrictions being placed on healthcare providers and hospitals and institutions in the U.S. and globally."
ACC said the health, safety and well-being of its members, staff, exhibitors, faculty and the patients they serve is of paramount importance. "With an ever-increasing number of ACC members on the front lines of preparing and reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak, we believe 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," Kovacs explained.
This is the first time ACC has ever been cancelled since the annual meeting began 69 years age.
ACC said it is looking for other ways to recognize awards winners that were going to be honored at the annual meeting and it is planning to deliver elements of the ACC.20/WCC program through a virtual program.
ACC said it is working on a refund processes and options in the coming days. The college prepared an initial FAQ document to help with answering travel, refund and other questions. This document will continue to be updated. Existing embargoes and plans for simultaneous publications for late-breaking science presentations remain in place.
"This is a unique time for us all, but ACC members and the cardiovascular profession as a whole have a long history of innovation and rising to meet whatever challenges come our way," Kovacs said. "Please know that the college is here for you and we will not waver in our commitment to provide the resources, education and support you need to deliver the best care for your patients."
Cardiologists Raised Concern Over Past Week About Continuation of ACC.20
There was a lot of social media discussion between cardiologists last week iof ACC 2020 should be held or not. Concerns were amplified after the Italian outbreak of COVID-19, reports from clinical friends in Itally that the disease is more serious than the flu and the country putting 15 million of its citizens into quarintine.
In a poll of more than 2,000 cardiologists and staff last week at #Cardiotwitter, asked if they feel ACC 2020 should be cancelled, 63 percent said it should. The Twitter poll was conducted by Robert W. Yeh M.D., MBA, director of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He commented on Twitter earlier today that ACC made a good decision with cancelling the conference.
In the lead up to the large Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting cancelling last week, dozens of health systems started putting travel restrictions in place for employees traveling on company time. These restrictions will likely have a major impact on doctors and administrator's ability to attend other medical conferences in 2020. Twitter ACC.20 discussions last week centered on whether the show couple go on with mabny large systems and academic centers preventing presenters, society leadership and attendees from going to the meeting.
An example of restrictions issued by Columbia Medical Center in New York stated that clinicians and staff need to optimize their availability in case they are needed due to a local COVID-19 outbreak. The restrictions include no international travel and no domestic work-related or business/academic travel to meetings or conferences, The medical centers urged use of video conferencing instead. Columbia also urges staff to avoid large gatherings of more than 25 people.
The restrictions were also implemented for all non-clinical staff to aid in facility preparedness in case emergency plans need to go into effect.
More than 70 U.S. academic medical centers have implemented some level of staff work-related travel restrictions in the past two weeks. Most are restricting all international travel, but some are only preventing travel to CDC Level 2 or 3 risk countries. Some require travel only with prior institutional approval. Domestic travel is only being prohibited by some institutions, but many now require institution approval or prohibitions on visiting areas considered high-risk. Many centers are officially discouraging all travel, if they do not have an outright restriction. Link to an unofficial running list of centers that have imposed staff travel restrictions.
ACC Working to Deliver COVID-19 Cardiac Impact Information
ACC leadership and staff are working to provide COVID-19 guidance and preparedness tips to the entire cardiovascular care team. The ACC issued a clinical bulletin Feb. 20 addressing the cardiac implications of the novel coronavirus. The key message to clinicians is that patients with underlying cardiovascular disease may have a potential increased risk if they contract coronavirus. The bulletin provides background on the epidemic, which was first reported in late December 2019, and looks at early cardiac implications from case reports. It also provides information on the potential cardiac implications from analog viral respiratory pandemics and offers early clinical guidance given current 2019-nCoV uncertainty.
ACC also issued an updated ACC Clinical Bulletin providing COVID-19 Clinical Guidance For the Cardiovascular Care Team March 6. The ACC said the document is designed to
Help those working on the front lines to best serve patients and lead COVID-19 response planning at their institutions. It includes recommendations for cardiac-specific preparedness.
COVID-19 Cancels Other Medical Conferences
Last week the large HIMSS annual meeting was cancelled just days before it was supposed to open in Orlando Florida this week. The decision was made in part because dozens of vendors, including several anchor vendors, started to pull out of the conference. Attendees also started cancelling in large numbers as their hospitals began implementing travel restrictions last week. The hospitals and health systems are preparing for the possibility of outbreaks of the virus in the United States and the hospitals needing to implement emergency plans that include roles for all their staff.
Read the article COVID-19 Cancels HIMSS Health IT Conference
The large Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) annual meeting set for March 28 to April 2 in Seattle, Wash., was also cancelled last week. On March 4, the Seattle and King County Public Health Department issued new public health recommendations to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Among these recommendations was a request to organizers of large public gatherings to avoid bringing large groups of people together and consider postponing events and gatherings, so SIR cancelled its meeting. Read the article SIR 2020 Cancelled Due to Covid-19 Outbreak in Seattle.
COVID-19 fears also cancelled two European medical conferences last week. The European Society of Radiology announced it is postponing its European Congress of Radiology (ECR) annual meeting that was supposed to take placed March 11-15 in Vienna, Austria. The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) sponsored Acute Cardiovascular Care 2020 conference set for March 7-9, in Athens, Greece, was also cancelled.
Additional COVID-19 Resources for Clinicians: