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Handful of San Diego conferences cancel over coronavirus worries

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Posted at 12:09 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 15:26:35-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — While many local events went on as planned this weekend, several conferences slated for San Diego have canceled or postponed due to coronavirus worries.

So far, a handful of events have pulled back or canceled their plans:

  • The 34th National Institute on White Collar Crime has canceled its planned March 11-13 conference at Marriott Marquis San Diego, citing coronavirus fears. On its website, organizers with the American Bar Association (ABA) said the decision to cancel was made "as a result of the large number of speakers and attendees who were compelled to cancel their participation due to travel restrictions put in place by employers." The institute will not be rescheduled, according to ABA. The organization said refunds are being processed to attendees, but any travel reservations made will have to be handled individually.
  • Leaders of the Experimental Biology conference set to take place April 4-7 canceled the massive gathering over COVID-19 as well. The conference expected more than 12,000 attendees at the San Diego Convention Center.
  • The 2020 CIE Summit business technology summit at Marriott Marquis San Diego has been rescheduled from March 18-20 to Aug. 12-14 "out of an abundance of caution," organizers say.
  • Organizers with the Future of Individualized Medicine 2020, scheduled for March 12-13 at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, also canceled their event "based on concern for the health of our registrants, speakers, exhibitors and staff."

The convention center says in addition to the cancellation, some organizers have contacted them about postponing their events until later this year. In response to COVID-19 worries, the convention center says staff have received training and taken precautionary measures, like increasing the frequency of cleaning, disinfecting commonly touched objects, and placing signage and hand sanitizer stations throughout the building.

10News has reached out to Comic-Con International regarding any possible adjustments to their July convention, but have not heard back.

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Though only a handful of events, each cancellation prolongs worries for those with plans to come to town and those whose livelihood depends on that travel.

Joel Valenzuela, the maritime director for Port, says their industry provides about $200 million in economic impact. While no cruises have been canceled, he says the Port expects to take a hit.

"We've done things such as increasing sanitation areas within the port facilities, as well as setting aside some prescreening and quarantine areas in case the cruise lines would need it," Valenzuela said. "I don't know how bad it's gonna get, how good it's going to get but hopefully it passes."

The convention center could also be affected. The center estimates it had a regional impact of $1.2 billion in 2018, $147 million of that coming from Comic-Con.

According to CIC Research, San Diego visitor spending in 2015 totaled about $9.9 billion. Visitors who stay in hotels represent about 28 percent of all visitors to the county, but generated about 67 percent of visitor spending.

San Diego has not had any local cases of the new coronavirus. Two individuals previously quarantined at MCAS Miramar after being evacuated from China were infected but have since recovered and returned home.