The First, Likely Inevitable COVID Case Surfaces In Wake Of Last Week’s InfoComm Show

November 2, 2021 by Dave Haynes

There was a small shit-storm whorling away on social media in the weeks and days before last week’s InfoComm trade show in Orlando, focused on the health safety and overall business merits of the event in the midst of a pandemic. And that little storm is continuing as reports emerge of people who went to Orlando arriving home with COVID-19.

I dunno how many people picked up the virus in or around Orlando, or on their way there or back, but I saw at least one well-known person from the pro AV sector publicly tweet that she went to the show, got tested after, and showed positive. She doesn’t likely want the attention, so if you need to know who, you can find out pretty easily.

She posted her rapid test results, and also: I took precautions, I have 2 Pfizer shots, I’m otherwise healthy & it was my decision to go. I announced this BcI had many contacts & hugs so I wanted all to have the opportunity to take proper precautions, that’s all. I cannot smell nor taste, head congested, no fever yet. 

That’s one person, keep in mind, but based on the tweets, it is likely she is not alone – which would make sense just based on averages. Hopefully, others who may have picked it up were also fully vaxxed, and while they might have a rough ride, they won’t likely need hospitalization because they were jabbed.

It was a little disconcerting to see photos and video from the show floor, and particularly from social events, that suggested many people were going unmasked and moving around in, at times, pretty tight quarters like bars and restaurants. Scroll through tweets on #infocomm21 and you will see a mind-wobbling number of selfies of two, three and four people with their mask-free heads jammed together. AVIXA, which owns and runs the show, did what it could to enforce health safety protocols, but you could see from the floor and particularly in events away from the convention center how things like mask mandates  were relaxed or ignored.

If Sixteen:Nine is a regular read, you’ll know there were plans in place for a digital signage industry mixer at InfoComm, but they were cancelled them because a networking event in a pandemic seemed both incongruous and an open call to arms for the Better Call Saul wing of the legal profession. The rewards vs risk thing didn’t work.

The reasonable counter-argument to not doing InfoComm or other industry events is that flying and going to trade shows comes with the assumption that you might pick up something nasty in those travels. My first or second time back from ISE involved a hellacious cold/flu/something that put me on my ass for 3-4 days … and we all have those stories. But I could have got that bug on the tram as easily as at the exhibit hall.

The whole situation is riddled with mixed feelings, and a lot of emotion. All we can hope for is that in three month’s time (wow!), when the next big pro AV/signage event is on in Barcelona, the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go debate about ISE (a larger, sister event to InfoComm) is less about health safety and business concerns, and more about boring stuff like flight costs and hotel room availability. But COVID won’t likely be anywhere near eradicated by then.

If you went to Orlando last week and are feeling great today, awesome! That’s presumably the vast majority, but getting a test today would be wise if you were doing the #AVselfie thing and hitting indoor cocktail parties at night. You don’t want to be spreading this to your family.

If you’re feeling shabby, I hope that turns around quickly and leaves no collateral damage to yourself or the people you know and love. Get well!


  1. Ken Goldberg says:

    I celebrate Mr. Danto’s right to his opinion, and his decision to stay home. I take issue with his reference to Florida as an unsafe state. We are tied for the lowest per capita case rate in the country, despite (or should I say because of) no draconian mask mandates, lockdowns, etc. We’ve been open and creating new jobs in Florida for many months. If anyone picked up the flu while at InfoComm, I’d wager it was brought in from outside…. New Jersey, for example. Anyone who attended did their own calculus regarding risk and reward, just as those who stayed away did. There is no reason to shame either group.

    1. Video Conference says:

      Florida ranks seventh in the nation, not the lowest per-capita as Mr. Goldberg attests. This is misinformation spread by the Florida “Surgeon General.”

      1. Dave Haynes says:

        The NY Times, not exactly a right wing rag, does indeed list Florida as having the lowest per capita among US states, behind only Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas in terms of US territories. However, Florida’s state government has been the subject of endless criticism about how it handled COVID statistics, including assertions from the state’s data analyst that state officials were covering up the true extent of the pandemic and not releasing all available data.

  2. Wes Dixon says:

    I was recuperating from a (physical) injury, so did not attend InfoCOMM last week. But… Even in light of the, as you said Dave, inevitable, CCP Virus cases, I would absolutely have been there. It was the right move to hold it. This virus is waning as a pandemic, IMHO. It is moving into the ‘endemic’ stage, like the flu and colds and pneumonia we get vaccinated against every year. The CCP Virus vaccines are some 90% effective, while “Annual Flu Shots” hover around 45-50% efficacy. We’ll just add this vaccine to the others. Finally, that some number of people will get sick, even die, regardless of vax status, will not likely approach statistical significance. Sad, yes, but no reason to stay in a “bubble.” I will be at InfoCOMM’22 with bells on! Booth number N662. Come see us!

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