After several weeks of discussion with our leadership, and ongoing monitoring of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the AMSSM Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA.
AMSSM places the highest priority on the health and well-being of all individuals during the ever-changing crisis involving the COVID-19 coronavirus. As last week progressed, it became apparent that the meeting as scheduled in April would not be feasible. By the end of the week, most academic medical centers and large private groups had imposed 60-day travel restrictions on work-related travel. Community spread of the virus began occurring in more and more states. Finally, the recommendations yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control putting a moratorium on meetings of over 50 people for the next eight weeks simply validated the decision of our board at a scheduled emergency meeting last night. Cancelling the Annual Meeting is the right and necessary choice to limit further spread of the virus caused by COVID-19.
Many of us have already been directly impacted by this pandemic, with an increasing and growing need for physicians to provide healthcare in their local communities. There was also the recognition of our board that at this time, members need to be able to focus on the needs of their families, patients and practices, without distraction. This is going to be a very trying time for the medical profession, and I'm profoundly grateful for each and every medical professional around the world who is making a difference in their respective communities to help slow the spread of this virus and ultimately save lives.
In terms of the conference, the Board considered multiple options for the 2020 Annual Meeting, including postponement until a later date in 2020. But there were logistical challenges with doing this at a time when we don't know the ultimate timeline of the pandemic. In the interest of allowing those involved with the meeting to focus on their own communities right now, we came to the conclusion that the best course of action would be canceling the meeting outright and putting all future efforts into making the 2021 Annual Meeting the best conference possible.
This decision wasn't made lightly, especially considering the years of effort by the Program Planning Committee that created an outstanding lineup of speakers and topics. We look forward to incorporating some of the best aspects of this conference into the next Annual Meeting in 2021. I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to recognize 2020 Program Chair Jason Zaremski. Jason, along with 1st Vice President Tracy Ray, Moderator of Moderators Anna Waterbrook, her co-chair Alex Diamond, ICL chair Melissa Novak and her assistant Melody Hrubes, and members of the Program Planning Committee, who have spent the better part of two years planning a wonderful meeting that will not take place as intended. I know that being Program Chair of a meeting this size is essentially like taking on a second part-time job, and Jason has performed his duties diligently, efficiently and capably. Thanks to him and all involved for their efforts, and we'll look forward to some of what would have been presented in April at the San Diego meeting in 2021.
As it stands, we are currently developing an online community that will allow for increased connection for all committees and special interest groups that traditionally meet during the Annual Meeting. This community will allow member conversations to take place throughout the year, and highlight all the exciting endeavors taking place throughout the organization.
Anyone who has registered for the 2020 Annual Meeting will be receiving a message later today about the options regarding their registration fees, including:
It is an honor to serve you as AMSSM's President, and my prayers are with each of you right now as you play your part in the largest public health crisis in recent memory. Please be assured that, though unfortunate, the disruption of this year's meeting will not disrupt the mission, goals or ongoing work of this organization. AMSSM has been - and remains - poised to lead the field of sports medicine into the future. Until we meet in sunny San Diego, BE WELL!
Chad T. Carlson, MD, FAMSSM