A MESSAGE FROM SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, LASHONDA JOHNSON
COVID-19 & 79th Conference Update
AS OF MARCH 14, 2020
Over the last 24 hours the news about COVID-19 has escalated substantially, and I know many of you are feeling the direct impact through school closures, event cancellations and recommendations for companies to move to remote work if possible. This is one of the most unique situations the Sorority has experienced and you have my ongoing commitment that the leadership of the Southwestern Region will do everything we can to support each of you as you execute the mission of the Sorority while remaining safe and healthy. We will continue to communicate with you as we have new information about the pandemic. Recently developments underscore the important nature of this pandemic:
On March 9, 2020, the federal government recommended that large gatherings be avoided.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 Virus to be a global pandemic.
On March 11, Houston declared a 7-day emergency health declaration, and canceled the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
On March 11, Harris County declared a 7-day public health emergency
On March 12, 2020, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago and the Harris County Public Health Department recommended that gatherings of 250+ people be cancelled or postponed through March 31, 2020 or until otherwise noted
On March 13, 2020, the Governor of Texas declared a state of emergency.
On March 13, 2020, during a press conference, the Governor of Texas reported the state now has 39 confirmed cases, and as of March 11th, 7 have been reported in Harris County.
On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a National State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 Virus.
The safety and health of our members, affiliates, partners and families, are of the upmost priority. In light of the above and with guidance from our International Leadership, the difficult decision was made that the Southwestern Regional Conference not convene at the Westin Galleria in Houston, Texas, from March 19-22, 2020. We are extremely disappointed but find it impossible to go forward under these current conditions. We encourage you to immediately make changes to your travel to Houston, including air, train, coach buses, etc.
Please review the Marriott COVID-19 Update and Cancellation Policy regarding existing room reservations.
We are considering various next steps, including the ability to potentially reschedule the conference and have maintained constant communication with Westin Galleria to explore options. In addition, we are considering solutions for conducting the important business of the region before the end of the sorority year, and once plans are in place, we will quickly communicate those to you.
We’re making this difficult decision because scientific evidence shows that social distancing can be an effective way to slow the transmission of disease, so it’s incredibly important that we all do our part to help.
Additionally, the Region will host a virtual town hall to discuss the path forward regarding the regional conference in the coming weeks.
I want to thank the Southwestern Region Executive Board, Committee Chairs, Coordinators, Conference Planning Committee, volunteers, and our host chapter, Gamma Sigma, that have been working tirelessly to plan the conference. Together, I know we’ll get through this.
Thank you for your patience, flexibility, support, and words of encouragement as the Region works through this matter and navigates in unchartered territory.