HIMSS going on as planned despite coronavirus concerns, Trump invited to speak

President Donald Trump will deliver a keynote address at the HIMSS 2020 conference in Orlando, Fla., on March 9, conference organizers announced March 2, marking the first time a sitting president has addressed the annual gathering of health IT leaders.

Mr. Trump's keynote will take place on the opening day of the conference, immediately before the HIMSS20 opening reception, according to the announcement.

Earlier in the day, organizers confirmed that the conference will go on as planned, despite rising concerns related to coronavirus. In a statement, they said, "Given the dynamic nature of this situation, HIMSS has assembled an external panel of medical professionals to further advise our evidence-based decision-making and to ensure the safety of the healthcare community currently planning to assemble in Florida for HIMSS20."

The announcement came as many in healthcare took to social media to air concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus at the event, and as at least one major vendor dropped out of the conference over similar concerns. In a statement, Cisco said, "While we are extremely disappointed that we cannot continue with these events as planned, we strongly believe this is the right decision given the current circumstances."

Though the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus from China, remains low in the U.S., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency after the state recorded its first two confirmed cases over the weekend, The Hill reports.

Several other organizations have made the decision in recent weeks to cancel their own upcoming conferences due to coronavirus-related concerns, with many of them citing the large numbers of attendees coming from countries with major outbreaks such as China, South Korea and Italy; all three of those countries, plus Iran, have been assigned the highest level of travel warnings by the CDC.

According to the HIMSS 2020 website, more than 90 countries are represented at the conference, with South Korea making up the fifth-largest group. (Though China typically makes up the 13th-largest group, HIMSS said in a statement that it is complying with federal restrictions on travelers to the U.S. from China.)

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