(note: on Thursday March 12th NAB announced they are no longer moving forward with the show.)
Ok, NAB, what’s it going to be? As of Tuesday morning March 10th Pacific time, their Coronavirus Update and Resources page states “as of now, we are moving forward with the show.”The list of exhibitors who have announced they are pulling out continues to expand (as of Wed morning March 11: Adobe, AJA, Avid, BorisFX, Nikon, Ross Video, TVU Networks, Western Digital, Zaxcom). Over-reaction? Abundance of caution? Or because they feel a responsibility to their employees and customers? What is NAB’s responsibility to slow the spread of the Corona virus so that the U.S. health system can gear up to handle the load, especially for those who are most vulnerable? To say nothing of the possibility of attendees bring it back to their home countries.
According to an email I received this morning from regular exhibitor Jim Tierney, Chief Executive “Anarchist” of the software firm Digital Anarchy, NAB has not done any of the following:
– Explain to exhibitors proactively what the cancellation process is and what happens if NAB cancels.
– Provided any guidance about what metrics they’re looking at and what would have to happen for them to cancel the show.
– Made any concessions to exhibitors (or attendees) that don’t want to attend due to health reasons. Despite NAB’s encouragement to not come if you’re sick… it’s just lip service. If you don’t show up, you still pay for your exhibit space. No partial refund, nothing. So exhibitors have an economic incentive to show up sick or not.
If you think that COVID-19 is “like the flu” I urge you to listen to Sam Harris’ podcast with Nicholas Christakis (MD, PhD, MPH, and Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University), and this article by Dave Troy (expert on online disinformation, misinformation, and mathematics relevant to disease transmission).
The most important thing we can do right now (besides not panic-hoarding supplies and sharing mis-information) is to flatten the curve: slow down the rate of infection by washing our hands, social distancing (meme alert), and avoiding large gatherings for a period of time. How long, we don’t know. The economic impact I expect will be huge. But the sooner we act, even if it does still spread to a significant proportion of the population, the more lives we can save due to having had time to put resources in place.
As test kits start getting more widely distributed this week, the true extent of cases in the U.S. will become more clear, and most experts expect a significant spike in reported cases.
Unlike the city of Austin, who forced SXSW to cancel, I don’t see the City of Las Vegas doing the same thing as it would mean basically shutting down the town. But who know?
NAB, don’t wait until your hand is forced. Step up and do the right thing now.