MPI releases post-WEC COVID-19 report

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MPI releases post-WEC COVID-19 report

By Rich Luna | Nov 20, 2020

When MPI established its Duty of Care safety protocols for the recent World Education Congress (WEC), the association went beyond the CDC-recommended incubation and tracing periods for COVID-19.

The CDC has reported that 95.7 percent of people with COVID will show symptoms within about 11 days of infection, with a median time of four to five days from exposure to symptoms onset.

Rather than establish a recommended 10-day tracing period, MPI extended the tracing period to 14 days for the 800 attendees at WEC, Nov. 3-6 in Grapevine, Texas. The 800 figure includes more than 600 paid attendees as well as staff, speakers and other support teams.

Here are the results.

One person informed the association of a positive COVID-19 test within the CDC-recommended post-event Duty of Care reporting protocols.

After the 10-day period, another attendee notified MPI of a positive test after they returned home and were exposed to someone there who had tested positive on Nov. 9, three days after WEC ended. A third attendee reported a positive test on Nov. 17, 11 days after WEC, but reported no symptoms.

Annette Gregg, senior vice president for experience at MPI, says while MPI had hoped to report zero post-event cases, “we are pleased our onsite protocols kept the number so low. It was our intention to show how group gatherings can happen safely and we feel we did that successfully.”

Gregg says the first attendee who reported a positive test said they did not feel well and departed the conference on Nov. 5, within 48 hours of arriving.

After returning home, the attendee was tested and received a positive COVID indicator two days later. During WEC, this attendee passed all the required daily temperature and self-reported health checks. The attendee did go to general sessions and some breakouts but did not attend any social gatherings or evening events, Gregg says.

The attendee, who reported feeling better within two day of testing positive, was “very disciplined about scanning business cards of individuals they interacted with and through contact tracing we have identified 46 attendees who may have had exposure to the individual,” Gregg says.

Based on MPI’s contact tracing protocols, the following message was sent to each of those 46 attendees who met with the individual.

“Thank you for attending WEC Grapevine last week. In designing this program, we have kept the health and safety of our event attendees as our primary focus, implementing a thorough Duty of Care protocol including masking, distancing, mandatory daily temperature checks and self-reporting/contact tracing post event.  

“In accordance with CDC guidance, we are writing to tell you that one attendee tested positive for COVID-19 within 10 days after returning from the event. According to this person’s activities, they had limited participation in WEC events but may have met with you during the program. We encourage you to take all precautions that you believe are appropriate, which may include self-monitoring for symptoms and seeking out testing. 

“We appreciate your participation at WEC and look forward to seeing you again soon as we continue to move our industry forward. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.”

MPI also sent out an eight-question survey to attendees on Nov. 13, with questions related to MPI’s Duty of Care and reminding attendees to self-report a positive COVID test after the event. MPI said that of the responses received so far, 94 percent reported being satisfied with the onsite Duty of Care.

MPI had committed to strict safety protocols in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was the first fully live hybrid meeting industry education event since March to test the boundaries of a large in-person gathering.

InHouse Physicians (IHP), which monitored attendee health and had a physician on site, reported no positive cases of COVID during WEC. Attendees had to fill out a daily questionnaire and undergo a temperature check before being allowed to enter the conference center. Once an attendee successfully completed those tests, they were given a wristband and had to wear a mask and social distance at all times unless they were actively eating or drinking

Gregg says security reported 100 percent compliance, finding no one without a wristband. In MPI’s Duty of Care and personal accountability statements, the association asked that anyone testing positive for COVID within 14 days of leaving WEC contact MPI so attendees can be notified regarding contact tracing.

Elizabeth Zrelak, director of meetings and events for IHP, says there were a total of 1,820 scans of attendees entering the conference center over the course of the event. Four people visited the clinic for illness or injury not related to COVID, while seven attendees requested quick-response testing at the onsite clinic. Five of those tests were requested by attendees out of precaution and two were referrals from IHP. All seven tested negative for COVID.

Gregg says that in addition, one MPI staff member was sent home after learning that they were exposed to COVID outside of WEC; they tested negative for COVID.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.