P-POD CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)
[The following was published on....] March 13, 2020
Much of the human race has benefited from advances such as in sanitation that have in recent centuries reduced dramatically the toll taken by infectious diseases, but the emergence of a pandemic now is a harsh reminder of vulnerability that always remains. Nutritional and lifestyle measures that may decrease chronic disease incidence or compromised immune function in a population, cannot be expected to prevent dangerous outcomes upon exposure to novel or aggressive pathogens such as COVID-19. We must respect the catastrophic scale of the current society-wide threat from coronavirus spread, and follow carefully the evolving guidance from appropriate public health authorities about trying to lower risks.
PUBLIC HEALTH EVALUATION OF SCHEDULED DATES
We are a nonprofit organization committed to public health betterment through evidence-based measures, and we intend that no action we ever take, including the scheduling of a conference, will introduce a risk of harm to any persons. If at any time it is the judgement of public health authorities at the local, state or national level, or of our host institution (Eastern Michigan University), that assembling our conference participants in Ypsilanti MI at our future date of [had then been: May 30, 2020; is now: July 24, 2020] will result in a hazard to our visiting attendees and speakers, or to the members of the university or Ypsilanti communities, then we will promptly postpone this event.
There is no such judgement at this time, [had then been: 78; is now: 128] days before our 7th annual national conference, that it will be necessary to postpone this event. At all levels, from personnel who coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control, down through our host university staff, down through our nonprofit board of directors, monitoring and assessment will be proceeding day by day with focused intensity. Although no COVID-19 case has been identified in the county of our conference site, the university has temporarily suspended in-person classes, and is scheduled to resume campus classes and events on April 1. The university posts regular updates about the implications of COVID-19 for the campus and community, and the extensive precautionary measures being undertaken locally, along with links regarding guidance and resources.
POSTPONEMENT CREDITS AND REFUNDS
If our 2020 conference is postponed due to action by external authorities or by us, then all our paid registrants will have two options: applying toward our rescheduled event or any future P-POD event, all payments we received; or else receiving full refunds without any cancellation fee.
If any registrants choose to cancel their paid registrations for our May event based upon public health concerns, they will have two options: applying toward any future P-POD event, all payments we received; or else receiving full refunds without any cancellation fee.
LIVE VS. ONLINE
We have specific assurance from the university that postponement dates would be available to us later in 2020, should worsening public health conditions necessitate rescheduling. It is emphatically our intention to execute this conference as a live event. Under the extremely unlikely circumstances that rescheduling a live event would become impossible, we would undertake to reconstruct the conference program in an online webinar/virtual format retaining full accreditation for our continuing education credits.
CARE AND DILIGENCE ON CAMPUS
We are at this time going forward with all original plans for our 2020 conference, supplemented by numerous measures that we regard as protective for the well-being of all our P-POD community members and host staff. For example:
--If any P-POD registrant, speaker, board or staff member, or volunteer, before arriving at the conference, experiences any upper respiratory disturbances, fever, cough, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms, then we require that person NOT to travel to the conference site, but rather to seek medical assistance or evaluation. Similarly, for any person known to have had close contact within the past 14 days with someone infected with COVID-19, we require not traveling to the conference site unless currently appropriate testing procedures conclude there is no danger that an incubation period may be in progress.
--We will expect all participants to observe on-site the universally recognized measures that can reduce transmission of viral infections: thorough hand-washing with soap; avoidance of touching surfaces likely to transfer viral contamination; not shaking hands; minimizing the touching of one's own face; use of high-alcohol sanitizing substances in situations where thorough hand-washing is impossible. Guidelines such as these have been published widely, such as via the American Public Health Association.
--If any P-POD participant experiences on-site any upper respiratory disturbances, fever, cough, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms, then we ask that the person step out from the current activity and pursue medical assistance or evaluation.
--We will be coordinating closely with our university host to ensure that there are continuously available help-lines / points-of-contact for any health-related needs of participants, and that any necessary basic medical supplies and sanitation resources are readily and plentifully on hand.
If need arises, a P-POD participant may seek medical attention at these locations:
--On Campus: IHA Urgent Care at EMU, 1065 N. Huron River Dr., Ypsilanti MI 48197
Hours: Fri. 7am - 9pm Sat. and Sun. 8am - 4pm Mon. 7am - 9pm
Services Available: Patients of all ages served for non-emergency illness or injury concerns. Minor procedures and diagnostic testing including x-ray are available.
Distance: 1,900 ft. (just over 1/3rd mile) from the Student Center (closer to The Village housing; farther from the First Year or Putnam housing, or from Pease Auditorium)
--Nearest Hospital and Emergency Room: St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital, 5301 McAuley Dr., Ypsilanti MI 48197
Distance: 2.7 miles from the Student Center
We very much look forward to reassembling our conference family, in furtherance of our nonprofit mission to reduce society's chronic disease burdens via coordinated action by health care professionals and their community allies.
[Update of March 18, 2020, some details later refined]
P-POD NOW JULY 24 – JULY 26 DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
We posted our coronavirus crisis page here on March 13. On March 15, Centers for Disease Control urged no gatherings of 50 or more through May 10, 20 days before P-POD’s start. Our nonprofit needed decisive action for attendee well-being, so 2020 P-POD was moved to Fri. July 24 - Sun. July 26. "Full" conference remains 18 credit hours, Sat.-Sun. remains 14. All speakers are retained. Registrants were automatically moved to the new dates, but may choose full refunds. EARLY BIRD PRICE DEADLINE is now MAY 19. Prices are the same, except that new university charges for parking will later mean small new costs for car users. PLEASE BE PATIENT as we edit agendas and flyers to show new times and presentations. Please see our comprehensive Safety-Supporting Efforts and Standards for the July 24-26 conference. Thank you all for your service to public health.
[Update of May 18, 2020]
P-POD CONFERENCE 2020 NOW ALL ONLINE
Eastern Michigan University has canceled on-campus housing for all summer events. Despite the COVID-19 risk reduction practices we had implemented, the university was not in a position to state now whether it expects public health realities to allow summer events to proceed at all (even without housing resources) after the Michigan state stay-at-home orders progress to a next stage of relaxation in a few weeks (**see university statement below). As a result, the 2020 P-POD Conference must now become an all-online event, but we're thrilled that we’ll keep the SAME July 24-26 dates, times, speakers, presentations, question/answer, agenda and continuing education credits, all with the ease and convenience of participation from your own home or place of choice. REGULAR REGISTRATION PRICES ARE REDUCED BY 20%, RETROACTIVELY AND UP TO THE END. Existing registrations will automatically be applied to the virtual event. Any housing or parking that was paid will be refunded within days. The EARLY BIRD pricing deadline is moved from May 19 to June 3. Website pages will quickly be updated to reflect changes.
**Eastern Michigan University statement: EMU's overriding goal is ensuring the health and well-being of every person who comes to campus. The university is disappointed in not being able to host the P-POD Conference this year, but will be excited to host a 2021 conference and welcome participants then safely to our campus.