The American Physical Society has abruptly cancelled their March meeting…the day before it was to begin.
Due to rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver, CO, has been canceled. Please do not travel to Denver to attend the March Meeting. More information will follow shortly. #apsmarch
— APS Physics Meetings (@APSMeetings) March 1, 2020
Many attendees are already in Denver, making this a rather ineffectual way to limit travel. It’s also the case that the World Health Organization is not recommending travel restrictions, so I’d be curious to know who argued for this cancellation, and why.
WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COIVD-19 outbreaks.
In general, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions. Furthermore, restrictions may interrupt needed aid and technical support, may disrupt businesses, and may have negative social and economic effects on the affected countries. However, in certain circumstances, measures that restrict the movement of people may prove temporarily useful, such as in settings with few international connections and limited response capacities.
Maybe it has something to do with that last phrase — is the US now regarded as a country with limited response capacities? I hope not.
My wife is near Denver right now, and was traveling through the Denver airport yesterday. I hope this cancellation was an unnecessary over-reaction. I’m planning some meeting travel for the end of June myself, and I could imagine cancelling if the epidemic got much worse, but I wouldn’t wait until the day before!