Here is the latest on the AHA meeting in New Orleans. I received this in my inbox yesterday:
The AHA is carefully monitoring the news about the Omicron variant, particularly in the New Orleans area, as COVID-19 numbers spiral around the world. We are updating our members and participants on our plans for the 2022 annual meeting in New Orleans, as well as the precautions we are taking for the health and safety of our meeting attendees and the alternatives we are providing for those who choose not to attend.
The AHA will not cancel our annual meeting unless required to do so by local or state public health authorities, something we have been told is extremely unlikely. Because of hotel contracts negotiated years in advance, the financial costs of canceling the meeting would be catastrophic for the AHA and would negatively affect every aspect of our mission. The health and safety of our members, attendees, exhibitors, hotel staff, and the people of New Orleans are our primary concerns. However, local, state, and national health authorities have not issued or recommended travel bans or bans on large gatherings of vaccinated people in the face of the Omicron variant. Many members have communicated to us that they remain enthusiastic about attending. Given that context, the decision to come to the AHA annual meeting is an individual decision, not a matter of social policy. We respect, and will gladly facilitate, whatever choices our colleagues consider to be in their best interests.
The majority of sessions remain scheduled to take place in-person at the annual meeting. To ensure safety, all annual meeting attendees must show photo or paper verification that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, and masks will be required in the meeting space. We plan to make PCR and antigen testing with same-day results available onsite. We also recommend that attendees receive a booster shot before the meeting. The city of New Orleans is well vaccinated and we have been impressed by the stringent policies, benchmarks, and data analytics established by New Orleans public health officials. For more details about the precautions we are taking, please consult our Health and Safety Information page, which is updated continuously with the latest information, including hotel policies in this area.
For panelists who choose not to attend the in-person meeting, sessions can move to an online format. Online sessions will take place from February 21–27. The AHA has approved all requests to move panels online. We will continue to approve all such requests through Wednesday, December 29. To make it easier to move panels online, we have reopened the online form accepting these requests and made it available to panel organizers. More information about AHA22 Online will be available soon; anyone registered for the in-person meeting is automatically registered for no additional fee. We are unable to accommodate live remote participation for in-person panels because of the prohibitive costs involved. However, if a panel is taking place in person but an individual panelist is unable to attend, they can either submit a recorded version of their presentation that will be played on a projection screen, or they can ask a colleague to read their paper in their stead.
Thank you for your support of the American Historical Association. I am well aware that there is nothing we can do that will please everyone; hence the imperative of emphasizing that we respect individual decisions regarding travel and attendance. We appreciate your patience as we navigate these uncharted and troubled waters.