As the Delta variant continues to cause some hesitancy about holding events, with a few events cancelling and others taking place as planned, new research may hold the key to putting our challengers’ and alumnae’s mind at ease. 

According to findings from a research partnership between Freeman, a global leader in events, and Epistemix, a computational modeling software company, large in-person business events are safe and do not increase local COVID-19 case rates. 

“Based on the data we’ve seen, attending an in-person event is no riskier—in fact, less risky— than essential daily activities,” said Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck. 

He added, “Businesses and organizations want to get back to events for critical commerce, networking and exchange of ideas. This research provides the framework for doing so safely.”

Epistemix, a computational modeling software company that develops simulations to fight disease and inform public health policy, has developed an approach that enables it to model the risk of infection and subsequent impact on local hospitals due to in-person business events.

Following are key findings of the research:

  • Risks of COVID-19 infection at events were as much as eight times less than the metro area where they were being held. For recent August events, the infection rates were as much as 95 percent lower than the U.S. at large.  
  • In-person business event participants are more likely to be vaccinated, reflecting a vaccination rate above 80 percent and creating vaccination coverage that drastically cuts transmission of COVID-19 at those events, regardless of the gathering size. 
  • Despite some concerns over the Delta variant, the majority of attendees and exhibitors want to return to in-person events, and more than 90 percent are not opposed to additional health and safety protocols to enable them to gather safely. Further, those who do not support additional protocols say they instead choose to stay home, mitigating any added risks of potential infections. 

Some businesses now require proof of vaccination to enter indoor establishments such as restaurants, office complexes, fitness centers and entertainment venues. We are monitoring those business practices and plan to comply.

Additionally, indoor mask mandates are currently enforced in several counties throughout Missouri. 

Although we had three of our sessions and many of our events cancelled in the past year, 2021 events including our Woman of the Year fundraising luncheon and our last two session experiences have been held safely and successfully. We will continue to offer hybrid options for those who are not allowed to or who do not feel comfortable joining in group events.  Session experiences and access to broadband cause some logistical challenges but we are working through that as much as possible. 

During sessions 2 & 3 in Kirksville and Kansas City it was so fulfilling to have many in the same room, learning, discussing, eating, disagreeing, laughing – all the things a session experience should be! Thank you so much to our session sponsors and coordinators for working to reconnect and celebrate the programming we’ve done in our session communities.

We remain committed to the safety of our challenge cohorts, our staff, our speakers, board members, regional coordinators and teams, and all alumnae and will continue to adhere to the CDC’s and local community gathering guidelines.

Thank you for all you do to support Greater Missouri, our session experiences, and more in-person events as we hopefully return to our new normalcy throughout this year and into 2022.