IBM pulls out of RSA over Coronavirus fears

IBM on Friday pulled out of the upcoming RSA Conference over concerns of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The company said the move was made as out of an abundance of caution to protects its employees from the virus that has so far killed 1,400 people and infected 50,000 worldwide, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

RSA Conference execs said in a February 14 statement that it understands and respects IBM’s decision, but the show will commence on February 23 and run through February 28 as planned. Show organizers noted that a few other scheduled attendees had also canceled either from concerns or the travel restrictions put in place. About 42,000 people attended the show in 2019.

“Since our last update, the number of individuals, including those from IBM, who have canceled their registration is approximately 0.79 percent of the total number of expected attendees. Also, the total number of exhibitors, including IBM, that have canceled their participation as a sponsor or exhibitor is eight. Six, of the nine registered, are from China; one from the U.S.A.; and one of them is from Canada,” RSA said, but did not name the other companies that have decided to stay home.

In its daily update on the coronavirus the CDC noted that this flu season has been particularly harsh with an estimated 26 million people being infected so far, 250,000 hospitalized and 14,000 deaths.

"We have the vaccines and the drugs to fight the flue illness. We don't have the tools yet for this Novel virus but there are things everyone can do to contain the virus," the CDC said.

RSA said 82 percent of the registered attendees and exhibiting organizations are from the United States. Additional precautions are being put in place at the Moscone Center and other venues, including:

  • Disinfecting registration counters and floors continuously throughout the day.
  • Offering disinfectant wipes at all check-in counters, in each session room for the speaker computers and microphones.
  • Adding hand sanitization stations and disinfectant wipes near each touch screen interactive campus map and wayfinding station.
  • Shuttle buses will be: Adding hand sanitizer pumps on every bus, distributing sanitizing wipes at the shuttle information desk in the Moscone Center and wiping down all shuttle bus arm rests (four times per day).

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