A MESSAGE FROM SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, LASHONDA JOHNSON
COVID-19 & 79th Conference Update
AS OF MARCH 14, 2020
The Southwestern Region continues to monitor the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. We are aware of the growing list of corporations and campuses who are moving to restricting travel and/or virtual solutions. We are also paying specific attention to the impact the coronavirus has had on conferences and other events in Houston, Texas around the date of our 79th Regional Conference. We are continuing to have frequent conversations and share information with both the Westin Galleria and the City of Houston. As there are new developments, timely updates will continue to be available on this page.
We want to start by confirming that the Regional Conference will take place as planned from March 18-22, 2020, at the Westin Galleria. If there are changes, the Region will communicate with all of its stakeholders as soon as is practically possible.
As of March 11, the following has occurred:
The City of Houston declared a Health Disaster for the next 7 days. The Houston City Council will revisit its decision on March 18.
Harris County, Texas, which encompasses the City of Houston and other surrounding cities, will institute a disaster declaration that will last for the next 7 days as well.
The President of the United States placed a 30-day restriction on all travel to and from Europe with the exception of the U.K., beginning Friday, March 13, 2020.
There have not been any limits or advisories placed on domestic travel, and health officials continue to reinforce that the risk to the general public in the USA is low. The Region will continue to monitor the situation closely, tracking updates and following the guidance from the federal government, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and state and local agencies that may impact travel and the health and well-being of conference attendees.
We are committed to providing the safest conference experience possible. We look forward to seeing you in Houston on March 19!
Precautionary Conference Strategies
The Westin Galleria is committed to providing a safe conference experience by:
Increasing the number of hand sanitizing stations
Cleaning and sanitizing the high traffic and high touch areas of the hotel
Replacing all air filters to a premium grade filter
The Region is working with the City of Houston to confirm the testing and health assessment protocol should a conference attendee experience symptoms consistent with the virus.
Travel Information and Advice
What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Community Spread [from the Houston Health Department]
What Can I Do?
Cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue
Consult with a doctor before traveling when sick
Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
Avoid contact with people who are already sick
Avoid contact with animals while traveling
Be aware of the latest travel advisories from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. State Department.
We know our Conference is a time for hugs and kisses -but, limit your contact with others if you do not feel comfortable.
NOTE: A word on medical face masks: wearing a face mask is recommended for participants who have respiratory symptoms (for example, cough); it is not recommended for healthy participants (Source: World Health Organization).
What to Look For
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
At this time, the CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Who Is At Risk
The current risk for COVID-19 to people in Texas is low. Evidence to date indicates those most at risk for becoming ill with COVID-19 are:
Those in close contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 infection, including healthcare workers and
Those who have traveled in the past 14 days in countries with ongoing community spread of the virus.
What if someone is sick the week of or at the Southwestern Regional Conference?
As this situation continues to evolve, there is a chance that a participant may experience symptoms leading up to or at the conference. If that is the case, please use the following as a guideline:
Seek treatment through a testing and health assessment protocol via your local health care professional.
Gain medical clearance prior to attending a large gathering of people, like the 80th Regional Conference.
During the Conference
Review the video below from the Houston Health Department