Suburban convention centers increasing health protocols amid coronavirus concerns
Chicago-area convention centers are ramping up health protocols amid growing concerns with the coronavirus.
But despite the cancellation of a major downtown home show this month, most suburban events and conferences are still full steam ahead.
The International Housewares Association announced Monday its decision to nix this year's global industry event, scheduled for March 14-17 at McCormick Place, because of ongoing travel restrictions and worldwide fear of the outbreak.
The Inspired Home Show, expected to draw 52,000 people, is McCormick Place's only cancellation so far, spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty said. But the Chicago convention center and other suburban venues remain on high alert as they increase cleaning efforts and follow public health guidelines for preventing the spread of the disease.
Railings, doorknobs, elevator buttons and other "high-touch areas" are getting an extra wipe-down with recommended hospital-grade disinfectant. Hand-washing and sanitizing stations are being installed in high-traffic public areas.
On-site staff, including paramedics and security officers, are being trained to watch for people who present possible symptoms.
"It's all about communication internally," said Scott Gentile, director of sales and marketing at the Schaumburg Convention Center. "It's something we have in effect every flu season, but it's, of course, of even more importance now."
The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont has received inquiries from some event organizers about the venue's prevention protocols, as well as future dates that may be available if they need to reschedule their shows, said Chris Stephens, the center's executive director. But nothing on the schedule so far has been postponed or canceled.
"I think everyone just wants to have a backup plan," Stephens said. "We want to work the best we can with everybody to make sure everybody feels comfortable in the facility, as well as make sure everybody's show happens."