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AVMA calls off 2020 convention due to COVID-19

Executives say the decision “wasn’t easy to make” but was “the right one.”

AVMA calls off 2020 convention due to COVID-19
San Diego was supposed to play host to the 2020 AVMA Convention.

For only the third time in history, the American Veterinary Medical Association has canceled its annual convention, this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event had been scheduled for July 31 to Aug. 4 in downtown San Diego.

The cancellation was announced May 1 in a letter from AVMA President John Howe, DVM; board of directors chair Rena Carlson-Lammers, DVM; and CEO Janet D. Donlin, DVM, CAE.

“Our top priority has always been the health, safety and well-being of the veterinary community,” they wrote. “With so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe this is the only way to protect all our annual convention attendees, vendors, speakers and exhibitors. Though this decision wasn’t easy to make, we believe it’s the right one.

“We know that many people plan well ahead for the AVMA Convention, and we wanted to let you know of our decision as soon as possible to allow you to make necessary changes to your schedule and travel plans. All attendee registration fees will be refunded, and we will be communicating those details separately.”

Hotel reservations made through the official AVMA block will be canceled, they said, and anyone who booked a room independently should “follow up with the hotel directly.”

The AVMA also canceled the Cannabis Symposium, which had been set for Aug. 3 and 4. The National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, which would have taken place July 31 to Aug. 2 at the University of California, San Diego, was called off April 24 by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Previous convention cancellations occurred in 1914 and 1945. The first, AVMA spokesman Michael San Filippo said, was “due to an epizootic of foot-and-mouth disease” and the second was “to comply with a war-time request from the federal government that all organizations do so to relieve transportation problems.”

According to an AVMA financial statement, the 2018 convention, held in Denver, was the organization’s third-largest moneymaker, bringing in $4.36 million, or nearly 11% of total revenue. The biggest contributors to the AVMA’s $40 million in 2018 revenue were member dues, at $25.2 million, or 63%, and the Career Center, at $5.7 million, or 14%.

The 2021 convention is scheduled to take place in Minneapolis.

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