The conference organizers are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as we move towards the meeting this summer. The meeting is going ahead in-person. We are closely following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and will meet or exceed these recommendations to host a safe meeting for all in attendance. We are also monitoring the guidelines specific for the state of Texas, as federal guidelines do not apply uniformly at the state level. We recognize that it is not possible to completely eliminate COVID-19 risk, but we are taking multiple precautions to reduce the risk and host a meeting in the safest and most responsible manner possible. COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and our plans may change accordingly. We encourage attendees to follow this page for COVID-19 policy updates.
Travis County is currently at "medium risk" according to the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html
Masks: All attendees will be provided with a set of N95 masks at registration, one for each day of the conference. Thanks to the University of Waterloo for donating masks. Masks are very strongly recommended at all indoor events when not eating or drinking. Speakers may remove their mask when speaking. If Travis County moves to a "high risk" status, masks will be strictly required.
Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizing stations will be provided by the hotel, and will be available in high traffic areas.
Dedicated Meeting Space: All activities and functions at the hotel will take place on the 6th floor which is dedicated to just our group. We will not be sharing hotel space with other groups that may follow different COVID-19 practices.
Distancing: The meeting rooms are all very large, and even the rooms for concurrent sessions can accommodate ~200 participants when at 50% capacity. All presentation spaces will be configured at 50% capacity to allow for distancing. At coffee breaks and poster sessions, we will be able to spread out over the very large area of Salon H (Tadarida room), Prefunction space, and the outdoor balcony. To reduce crowding at poster sessions we will organize presenters into alternating time slots, such that only every other poster is in attendance at any given time.
Outdoor Dining Opportunities: Our 6th floor meeting space includes an outdoor balcony for those that would be more comfortable taking coffee breaks outside. The mid-week banquet will also be held outdoors. For other meals, there are many local establishments that offer the possibility of outdoor dining. A list of local restaurants with outdoor dining will be available at the conference. Note that the optional closing banquet on Friday evening will be held indoors in Salon H (Tadarida room). Attendance at the banquet will be far below the capacity for that room to minimize crowding.
Vaccination requirements: Many international attendees will require proof of vaccination for travel to the conference, and we anticipate that a very large proportion of attendees are already vaccinated. We encourage all attendees to be fully vaccinated, and receive boosters as is possible in your region.
COVID Testing: We encourage all members to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hrs of traveling to the meeting. If possible, attendees may want to bring some rapid self-tests in case they develop symptoms and need to test while at the conference. We are aware that many attendees will require a negative COVID-19 test in advance of return travel. Information about COVID testing in Austin is available at https://do512.com/p/where-to-get-tested-for-covid-19-in-austin including services that will come to the hotel to administer tests on-site.
COVID symptoms during the meeting: If a conference attendee develops symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19 while at the conference, they will be required to isolate following CDC guidelines. We encourage all attendees to consider isolation plans when booking your travel. In the event that conference attendees are required to isolate beyond the length of their initial hotel reservation, we have arranged with the hotel to allow guests to extend their stay at the discounted conference rate.
Insurance: Travel health insurance is generally recommended for all attendees. Furthermore, employer-provided travel insurance may exclude travel and healthcare costs associated with COVID-19. We encourage all conference attendees to consider purchasing sufficient travel COVID-19 insurance in the event that they are unable to attend the conference due to COVID-19, if they incur healthcare costs in the American private healthcare system, or if they are required to extend their stay in Austin while isolating before travelling home.