Based on the current credible scientific data we’ve reviewed from federal, state, and local health officials, we recommend people avoid attending mass in-person indoor events in this year.
To begin, it is inconceivable that the leadership of any organization in the United States of good moral character and conscious would schedule, plan and solicit masses of people to participate in a in-person indoor events this year, while the United States is battling and will continue to battle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a virus that is statistically increasing the infection, hospitalization and death of people at an overwhelming, unprecedented rate, especially underrepresented minorities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black or African American persons are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die as a result of COVID-19. When considering people with certain underlying medical conditions, the majority of which disproportionately affect underrepresented minorities, the aforementioned statistics increase significantly. Additionally, the odds of catching COVID-19 indoors are 18.7 times higher than in open-air environments, according to a study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Understanding that social distancing is antithetical to mass in-person indoor events, organization leaders should not plan to host any mass in-person indoor events this year.
Instead, they should rely upon credible scientific data from federal, state, and local health officials; the overwhelming majority recommend that people avoid attending mass in-person indoor events to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Organization leaders should closely review a study published on December 10, 2020, wherein 205,000 to 300,000 COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and globally were traced back to a two-day in-person indoor conference in Boston, MA. The Biogen conference, held Feb. 26-27, 2020, was responsible for roughly 1.6% of all U.S. cases since the start of the pandemic, researchers estimated. The study says that the conference is an example of what happens when the virus spreads unchecked, as the outbreak likely created major outbreaks among individuals experiencing homelessness, spreading throughout the Boston area including to other higher risk communities, and were exported to other domestic and international sites.
Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to distribute vaccines to help prevent infection from COVID-19, “it may take years to administer the vaccine at the current pace” to enough of the U.S. population to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historically Black organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Medical Association, National Black Nurses Association, Association of Black Cardiologists, NAACP, National Urban League, National Association of Black Accountants, National Society of Black Engineers, National Association of Black Journalists, 100 Black Men of America, and National Coalition of 100 Black Women recognize that vaccines alone will not end the COVID-19 pandemic nor immediately stop the current global surge in coronavirus infections. Consequently, they and other organizations appear to have pivoted their operations toward either hosting virtual events exclusively this year or postponing them altogether. Their organizations’ actions have sent a unified message that is clear; it is neither wise nor worth the risk for organizations to convene mass in-person indoor event this year, especially underrepresented minority organizations.
Leaders who disregard and/or ignore credible scientific data and proceed in scheduling, planning and soliciting people to participate in mass in-person indoor events this year should understand that such behavior is liken to that of playing Russian roulette. In addition to exacerbating their organization’s risk, their behavior can jeopardize the health and well-being of countless people should someone become infected with COVID-19 while travelling to, during and/or from their scheduled mass in-person indoor event.
Regardless of what incentives an organization or venue offers, people should avoid attending mass in-person indoor events this year. People should also beware of incentives organizations may offer to garner increased participation, including cancellation and refund policies associated with event registration that may appear to offer the benefit of full reimbursement. Such self-serving offers often have little or no influence whatsoever over the cancellation and refund policies of hospitality service (lodging and transportation) providers, and may ultimately prove costly to participants who, after registering, decide to cancel their registration.