Verizon is 14th vendor to pull out of show over health concerns due to COVID-19
The concerns over the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus that caused the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 show in Barcelona is impacting the RSA Conference 2020 as it gets underway this week in San Francisco.
The Lowdown: Verizon Communications late last week became the 14th company to pull out of the major cybersecurity event, joining the likes of IBM and AT&T Cybersecurity. About 40,000 attendees are scheduled to attend the annual event – which begins Monday – though as of Feb. 20, about 1.2% of expected attendees have canceled their registrations.
The Details: According to RSA organizers, six exhibitors from China – of the nine that registered to exhibit at the show – have pulled out and seven from the United States have done the same. Another company from Canada also has pulled out. The organizations are concerned about the health of their employees, opting to not have them congregate at crowded tech shows at a time when the number of cases and related deaths continues to spread, with some health professionals worried about a global pandemic.
As of this weekend, there were 79,930 cases of the people infected with the virus and a reported 2,465 deaths. China has been the hardest hit, though the number of cases in places like Italy and Iran are rising quickly and the United States has confirmed 34 cases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has widened its travel advisories to include Japan and Hong Kong.
The concerns about the virus continue to have a widening ripple effect through the tech industry as the conference season gets underway. Along with MWC, which was scheduled to start this week with more than 100,000 attendees expected, Facebook canceled its Global Marketing Summit scheduled for March 9-12 in San Francisco. Facebook also said it will not attend the Game Developers Conference, also in San Francisco starting March 16.
Shows like Black Hat Asia and EmTech Asia have been postponed, and Salesforce’s World Tour Sydney, set for March 4, which had been an in-person event, will now be conducted only online.
The Impact: COVID-19 first appeared in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread into most regions of the world. Governments are trying to stall the spread outside of China even as the number of new cases in that country may have started dropping. The virus is spread through human contact and as concerns grow about the dangers of gathering in places with large numbers of people from different parts of the world, upcoming tech events will likely continue to be impacted by cancellations of both exhibiting vendors and attendees.
The Buzz: “As media focuses on COVID-19 throughout the world, we want to assure you that San Francisco is open for business and events are proceeding as planned,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote in an open letter Feb. 20. “San Francisco is working closely with global, federal, and state health agencies to monitor the virus in order to protect residents, businesses, and visitors. Risk of being infected with [coronavirus] in San Francisco is low, as the virus is not circulating in our community.”
“In addition to following CDC recommendations like frequent hand washing, RSA Conference reminds attendees that other preventive measures have been put in place to help reduce the risk of infection,” RSA organizers wrote in a statement. “The Moscone Center is following recommendations in the U.S. EPA’s Emerging Pathogen Policy regarding the use of cleaning disinfectants effective against the coronavirus and CDC health screenings for qualified travelers arriving from international destinations at the San Francisco International Airport.”