September 14, 2021

SEMC is monitoring the incidence of COVID-19 in the Chattanooga area (Hamilton County,Tennessee) and following guidance from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding gatherings. This includes following CDC recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

We are looking forward to a smaller in-person gatherining in Chattanooga this fall! In order  to ensure that the 2021 SEMC Annual Meeting is as safe as possible, the following safety measures will be put in place:

  • We expect all in-person attendees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself and fellow attendees. We ask unvaccinated individuals to protect themselves and reduce the risk to others by attending the conference virtually.
  • Given the size of the event, and current (7/27/21) CDC guidelines regarding indoor masking recommendations, all attendees, vendors, staff and volunteers will be required to wear a face mask at the Convention Center and other indoor conference activities (with the exception of eating/drinking at luncheons) to further reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19. SEMC will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and directives. 

  • All SEMC staff attending the meeting will be fully vaccinated.

  • Masks will be required on all SEMC buses for evening events and tours.

  • SEMC is working with the Chattanooga Convention Center and Chattanooga Tourism Company on evolving safety protocols including:

    • Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the Convention Center.

    • Following current CDC guidelines, Chattanooga Convention Center staff will be required to wear face coverings.

    • Seating in the meeting rooms will be set for social distancing.

    • The 2021 Expo Hall/Layout was designed with space to move around as well as social distancing.

    • COVID-19 Meeting Resources for meetings and events in Chattanooga

  • The majority of the evening events and all tour offerings (with the exception of SERA Behind-The-Scenes) will be outdoors.

These measures will help reduce the chance for transmission of the virus; however, if you are sick or feeling you are getting sick, we ask that you please stay home. Currently, older adults and persons with underlying health conditions who are unvaccinated are considered to be at increased risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19. Examples of underlying health conditions include heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, people with weakened immune systems, and people who are pregnant.

The CDC recommends that people in high-risk groups who are not vaccinated consult with their healthcare provider about attending any large gathering.

If you plan to attend the in-person conference, please keep in mind the CDC recommendations on how to keep yourself and others healthy:

  • Complete full vaccinatation at least two weeks prior to traveling to Chattanooga.

  • Wear a mask in indoor locations.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • SEMC will provide all conference attendees information about where to get a COVID rapid test as well as locations of local walk-in clinics and hospitals close to the Chattanooga Convention Center.

  • Within two weeks after the conference, we urge any attendee who tests positive for COVID to alert SEMC staff. SEMC will inform attendees of any positive case without revealing identifying information about the ill person.

Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during the conference. SEMC relies on the integrity and honesty of our attendees. We will not be collecting proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or any other medical records. 

SEMC2021 includes a robust virtual conference option for 2021 hosted on PheedLoop. Virtual attendees will be able to watch sessions, network with each other and industry partners and view some of the live sessions in Chattanooga including the 2021 SEMC Business Meeting and Keynote address.

We will revise this policy as needed based upon local conditions and the guidance of the local health department and/or CDC.