Local businesses taking precautions amid coronavirus worries

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Two different organizations canceled their conventions in Philadelphia due to coronavirus concerns.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology was scheduled to host its convention in Philadelphia from March 13-16 but stated it needed to be canceled in order to protect the health and safety of its employees.

"Cancelling the 2020 AAAAI Annual Meeting was a difficult decision made by the AAAAI Board of Directors after careful thought and deliberation," said AAAAI President David M. Lang, MD, FAAAAI. "While an incredible amount of work went into planning this year's educational program, and all of our speakers and abstract authors have put immense time and energy into their presentations and posters, it has reached a point with COVID-19 where the AAAAI felt it was absolutely necessary to cancel the Annual Meeting in order to protect the health and safety of attendees."

Later in the day Monday, the American Chemical Society canceled its convention in Philadelphia, which was to be held from March 22-26. The convention was expected to bring an estimated 15,000 attendees and generate 23,000 hotel room nights.

"With this being such a rapid moving event, we are cautiously optimistic," said Kevin Schieferdecker. "We know that tough decisions are being made due to the uncertainty of what's happening here, but again, if groups do come to Philadelphia we are ready to host them."

Businesses across the region are taking precautions to stem the spread of the virus.

Large local companies in and around Philadelphia, like Vanguard and Lincoln National, instructed employees to avoid large group gatherings like industry conferences and required employees who traveled abroad to work at home for 14 days upon return.

"Additionally, we have ceased all cross-border business travel between Vanguard sites for the foreseeable future," said Vanguard spokesperson Amy Lash. "Cross-border business travel to non-Vanguard sites will be permitted only for the most essential needs. Vanguard has also limited all large-group gatherings and has instructed crew to cancel any plans to attend non-client or non-business essential events, such as industry conferences."

Employers say they're monitoring the situation closely, but some employees said they want more options.

"It would be helpful if everybody else could work remotely if they can, but I'm not sure everybody has the capability like telecommuting," said Patrick Brennan, worker in Center City.

In a press release, Independence Blue Cross announced it is allowing employees to work remotely until further notice.
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