Another COVID conference casualty: RSNA 2020 is going virtual

The Radiological Society of North America is canceling its annual meeting slated for later this year and moving the event to a web format, leaders announced Tuesday afternoon.

RSNA follows in the footsteps of numerous other imaging trade groups that have opted for virtual gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. As recently as May 5, the Illinois-based society had assured attendees that its popular conference was still on. But leaders have now made the difficult decision to opt out of hosting the gathering at Chicago’s massive McCormick Place starting in November. 

“With a mission that focuses on health and patient care, the primary consideration for RSNA is the health and safety of attendees, presenters, exhibitors, staff, and by extension, the global community. Therefore, we concluded it would be impossible to safely conduct RSNA 2020 in person and have decided to hold RSNA 2020: Human Insight/Visionary Medicine as an exclusively virtual event,” President James Borgstede, MD, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “While we are disappointed we could not safely meet in Chicago this year, we continue to stand proudly in partnership with the many physicians, healthcare professionals, researchers and companies doing their part to stop the pandemic and preserve public health, and we look forward to a successful virtual program.”

The 106th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting was previously slated to run Nov. 29 through Dec. 4, but will instead start on the same date and conclude one day later, on Dec. 5. RSNA promises the same “outstanding program for radiology professionals” over the web, having already received more than 11,000 abstract submissions.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based society said it has only been forced to cancel its in-person meeting twice before—in 1943 and 1945. Those cancelations, the group said Tuesday, came due to transportation and gasoline supply issues during and immediately following World War II. 

Registration for the 2020 meeting is set to open on July 22, and RSNA is working to enhance the virtual experience ahead of the fall start date.

“Fortunately, RSNA 2020 is still several months away, which will allow us the opportunity to prepare a robust virtual experience for our attendees and exhibitors,” RSNA Executive Director Mark Watson added in the statement.