19 January 2023

COVID Case Update for AAS 241

Kevin Marvel

Kevin Marvel American Astronomical Society (AAS)

AAS 241
Attendees chat during the opening reception at AAS 241. Photo by © CorporateEventImages/Todd Buchanan 2023

The AAS provided COVID tests at the recent 241st AAS meeting for individuals who exhibited symptoms, who were concerned they may have contracted the virus, or who had been exposed to individuals who may have been infected or later tested positive.
Thirty-two test packs were claimed in total. We asked those individuals receiving tests to let us know their results through an online form, including the date they tested positive. 
As of COB 19 January, we have received 17 negative results and 15 positive results. The positive results showed a double-peaked distribution indicating that roughly half of the positive cases were likely contracted before or during travel to the meeting and roughly half were likely contracted toward the end of the meeting or during travel home after the meeting given the typical 5-day period from exposure to symptom onset.
Given our overall attendance of around 3,000 individuals (in-person attendees), we estimate a total symptomatic case incidence rate among conference attendees of roughly 0.5%. This is a lower bound for the total case incidence rate, but we have no way to measure asymptomatic infections without uniform testing of all registrants, and it is also likely some symptomatic individuals did not seek out a test from us.
The AAS Board of Trustees thanks all attendees for complying with our masking mandate at AAS 241. We look forward to seeing everyone in Albuquerque for the 242nd AAS meeting. The Board will review and update conference health and safety protocols consistent with CDC and local health authority guidance if necessary.