Today’s Coronavirus Tracker

Current updates on association response to the global COVID-19 crisis, along with a roundup of conference, travel, and business news and information.

The Return of Conference Travel

As the final quarter of a difficult year for association meetings approaches, all eyes are on 2021 for signs of a return to in-person events. Concerns about a second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall and an uncertain vaccine timeline make the outlook murky, but business travel professionals are expecting an uptick in travel to conferences next year, according to a recent survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

About two-thirds of respondents said they expect employees of their company to resume attending in-person conferences and other events next year—44 percent in the first half of 2021 and another 25 percent in the second half.

Asked to identify the most important factor in planning for future conference travel, about half of respondents named the arrival of an effective vaccine for COVID-19, and 24 percent cited decreased virus transmission rates globally.

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“While there is no doubt the current global uncertainty around a second wave is delaying the return to business travel, the outlook for 2021 is looking more positive with companies planning a return to face-to-face meetings and events,” said Dave Hilfman, interim executive director of GBTA, in a press release. “It is encouraging to see businesses planning their return to office in a careful and safe way.”

The survey, conducted September 15-19, gathered responses from more than 1,300 business travel managers in organizations worldwide.

Recent Headlines

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Democrats Prepare New Coronavirus Aid Proposal (New York Times, 09/24/2020) “House Democrats are readying a new, scaled-down package of coronavirus aid that would include assistance to airlines, restaurants, and small businesses, according to people familiar with the matter, but Republicans said the chances of a deal before Election Day remained slim.”

Can Herd Immunity Save Us From COVID? Don’t Count on It, Says This New Study (Fast Company, 09/25/2020) “[Researchers] determined that herd immunity is not possible due to an invisible glass wall: If the virus spreads too quickly, it will overwhelm healthcare capacity; if it spreads too slowly, not enough people will become infected to reach herd immunity. There is, apparently, no middle path, just a wall.”

How Companies Big and Small Are Joining Forces With One Goal in Mind: Fighting COVID (Inc., 09/25/2020) “Stop the Spread is a consortium made up of over 300 companies doing their parts to create, source, and distribute PPE, build life-saving medical equipment, and increase coronavirus testing—basically, anything and everything in their power to end the crisis.”

Current Incidence Statistics

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Data sources include the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, as well as local authorities, medical sources, and news reports.