The AOA is committed to delivering the kind of engaging Optometry's Meeting® experience that our attendees have come to know and expect of our profession's premier meeting. But while we are eager to [re]connect with our friends and colleagues for live, in-person networking and entertainment, as well as a renowned education lineup, the AOA knows this year's meeting is unlike any other.
As COVID-19 is still a perpetual reality, we must all do our part to ensure the health and safety of our communities—and the AOA reassures attendees that Optometry's Meeting will be a safe experience. Below is a non-exhaustive list of ways that the Optometry's Meeting event space and headquarters hotel are adhering to the latest public health guidance from local, state and federal authorities, keeping your health and safety top of mind.
On-site health and safety
This year, Optometry's Meeting will feature added health and safety precautions that build upon established public health requirements already mandated by local and state authorities, as well as those of our host facility, the Colorado Convention Center. In relocating Optometry's Meeting to Denver, the Colorado Convent Center was chosen for its exceptional cleanliness and safety measures that distinguish it from other facilities, including:
- Denver 5-Star Certification Program.
This public certification denotes the facility has implemented safety measures that go beyond what is already required by current public health orders. A 5-Star certification allows eligible businesses to increase their capacity beyond current public health orders by demonstrating to local authorities that health and safety measures exceed recommended guidance.
- ASM Global VenueShield Environmental Hygiene Program.
Convention center staff have worked to upgrade the facility with equipment and protocols to provide a safe environment for gathering, including implementing new environmental hygiene protocols in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The VenueShield Environmental Hygiene Program works with over 400 products that include the recommended requirements for disinfecting surfaces containing: (1) Quaternary Disinfectant—Clorox® Total 360® Disinfectant—registered to kill 44 organisms including norovirus, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella and staph; (2) Quaternary Disinfectant—hdgC 2—a neutral pH cleaner formulated to kill a broad spectrum of microorganisms on high-gloss floors and nonporous surfaces; (3) alcohol-based disinfectant comprised of at least 60% alcohol; and (4) stabilized aqueous ozone disinfectant—eliminates viruses, including E. coli, salmonella, MRSA and more.
- Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STARTM accredited.
This gold-standard accreditation for facilities denotes that the convention center has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention. As the cleaning industry's only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation, GBAC STAR verifies the facility has implemented current best practices for pandemic response.
The convention center also has established "DEEP CLEAN" and "KEEP IT CLEAN" programs to ensure the highest standards for a safe facility. The former prepares the convention space before attendees arrive by applying EPA-approved disinfecting products on high-touch surfaces and objects; frequent cleaning of restrooms, carpets and flooring; ensuring custodial staff are trained in the latest disinfection techniques; and maintenance of other Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for cleaning and protection. The latter guidelines keep the convention space clean during the event and include cleaning products with shorter dwell times, increased cleaning frequencies, upgraded cleaning validation and other quality control techniques.
Additionally, the convention center has taken steps to ensure air quality improvements, including:
- Installation of ISO units that filtrate incoming and current interior air.
- Replacing HVAC air filters with higher-efficiency MERV-13 filters.
- Advanced plasma air purification technology for larger spaces and UV fixtures for smaller spaces.
Optometry's Meeting also will follow trusted recommendations and guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for limiting the spread of pathogens. These include:
- Face coverings. Effective May 16, the CDC is no longer recommending masks for individuals who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The CDC advises that individuals who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing measures. Those with specific personal or family health considerations should feel fully supported in determining their own approach to mask wearing and social distancing and all attendees are requested to respect individual decision-making.
Because the CDC guidance continues to evolve in response to the virus and because the CDC recently raised concerns related to the Delta variant, the AOA's policy for voluntary staff travel requires vaccination and, in addition, all AOA staff members have been encouraged to wear masks on site. As the CDC recommendations evolve further or are updated on short notice, we recommend that all attendees bring an appropriate supply of their own preferred mask or, as needed, make use of masks that will be made available.
- Observing occupancy limits. Attendance will be limited in educational courses and other events to adhere to prevailing capacity restrictions. Upon registration, attendees will be asked to register for their seats in preferred educational courses or other events as part of the Optometry's Meeting schedule.
- Ensuring hand hygiene and limiting high-touch surfaces. The CDC maintains that frequent handwashing is one of the most effective ways for limiting pathogen transmission, so in addition to asking attendees to remain attentive to frequent handwashing, hand-sanitizing stations will be available throughout the conference space. Badges can be self-scanned via free-standing detectors to limit contact.
- Monitoring your health daily. The CDC recommends that people be alert for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Attendees will be required to complete a wellness check each day to gain entry to the convention space. Attendees must complete a digital questionnaire before starting their day and show their approved status to event staff before being allowed to proceed into the center.
- Traveling to Optometry's Meeting. The AOA asks attendees traveling to Denver for Optometry's Meeting to please follow the CDC's "Recommendations for Domestic Travel During COVID-19."
Prior to your visit, the AOA kindly asks Optometry's Meeting attendees to be attentive of their own health and take personal precautions to ensure the health and safety of colleagues. Safety is our utmost priority at this and every Optometry's Meeting, and the AOA is excited for this opportunity to [re]connect. The AOA asks attendees who will be traveling to Denver for the meeting to follow the CDC's "Recommendations for Domestic Travel During COVID-19."
Housing health and safety
Optometry's Meeting has contracted with the Hyatt Regency at Colorado Convention Center as the 2021 headquarters hotel. Immediately adjacent to the convention center, the Hyatt Regency also has taken added steps to ensure the health and safety of its guests, following comprehensive procedures and practices to reimagine the hotel experience. This multi-layered Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment builds on Hyatt's existing rigorous protocols and includes:
- Trusted medical and industry advisors who help Hyatt think beyond cleanliness and advance care across the entire hotel experience.
- Cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention accreditation by the GBAC.
- Dedicated Hygiene & Wellbeing Leaders at the hotel to enforce new sanitization protocols and colleague resources.
Specifically, the Hyatt Regency is engaging in touch-free options and frequent sanitization with hospital-grade disinfectants. While in the lobby, guests can use contactless payment through keypad or mobile pay; guests will be required to wear face coverings while in public areas, as well as abide by capacity guidelines in elevators and social distancing; and hotel staff have increased their cleaning frequency.
Each guestroom has been modified to remove extraneous, high-touch items; enhanced digital amenities are offered, such as in-room workouts or streaming entertainment; enhanced room cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants; mobile ordering for food and beverages; and QR codes give guests access to hotel information.
Guests should be aware that due to the nature of the pandemic, some traditional amenities may be limited or no longer available during their stay, including:
- Regency/Grand Club and pool currently unavailable.
- Food and bar services, and valet parking currently limited in availability.
- Face coverings required in hotel indoor and outdoor public areas.
Read more about the Hyatt's Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment with additional information about cleaning and sanitization, food safety protocols and other protocols.