NYC Anime Convention Was NO Superspreader; Mitigation Tactics Prevail Study Says

Andrea Doyle, Executive Editor

NEW YORK, NY – A new report states Anime NYC, a creation of Leftfield Media, part of the Clarion Events family, was not an Omicron superspreader event as many had originally feared.

“These findings reinforce the importance of implementing multiple, simultaneous prevention measures, such as ensuring up-to-date vaccination, mask use, physical distancing and improved ventilation in limiting SARS-CoV-2 transmission during large, indoor events,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.

Ventilation, mandatory vaccinations and masks led to keeping transmission low, the CDC added.

Related. Omicron Shouldn’t Lead to Panic

Anime NYC and the Javits Center, which is STAR accredited by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), worked together to create the safest experience possible for all attendees, exhibitors and guests. Measures in place included specialized, hospital-grade air filters installed in the Javits Center to improve air quality and reduce any air contaminants.

Anime NYC added an additional 161,000 square feet of space for social distancing and aisles were widened to an average of 15 feet. There was an increase in sanitization teams throughout the weekend cleaning the building, hand sanitizer was readily available and signage about proper hygiene was also increased.

In December, the reason for concern was a Minnesota man who had attended the convention was infected with Omicron. This raised panic in the media and among the 53,000 who attended the convention.

But the CDC found no evidence of widespread transmission at the convention beyond a cluster of the Minnesota attendee’s close contacts.

Of the 4,560 who attended the convention, 2.6% tested positive, according to the CDC. Of 20 specimens analyzed, 15 cases were linked to the Delta virus, and 5 were Omicron.

Transmission primarily occurred in indoor unmasked activities outside official convention events, according to the CDC. The cluster of contacts to the Minnesota man were together unmasked at restaurants and bars, the CDC said. Among 23 of the man’s close contacts who were tested, 16 were positive and among 18 household contacts who got tested, 6 were positive.

Greg TopalianGreg Topalian Speaks Out

Trade Show Executive reached out to Greg Topalian, CEO, Clarion Events North America, about the widespread news of Anime NYC, one of his company’s shows, not being an Omicron superspreader event and here is what he had to say:

What has it been like to be in the spotlight of such damning headlines about your NYC Anime Convention in December? What does it feel like now? Do you feel validated?

As an event organizer of large-scale events, we take our responsibility seriously to create as safe of environment as possible for our community. COVID has, and continues to be, a serious and unfortunate scenario, not only for our industry but for the entire world. We continually work with our venues and the local and national health authorities to make the best implementation of protocols as possible with the information available at the time. Hearing anyone at all is ill is a serious matter, and we wish all impacted by COVID speedy recoveries and the best possible outcomes. Beyond the stress it created for our team, I was concerned that the coverage would have a negative impact on the broader industry, so I do feel very good about the latest coverage for my team and the industry as a whole.

 We have been hearing for months about the importance of a layered response being a trade show organizer’s best defense. Is that what helped at this show?

Layered response comes from great partnerships and support from our venues, custodial staff, local health authorities and our entire community involved and participating in our events. This is critical, and I am very grateful to Javits Center for their partnership.

What do you feel the future holds for COVID and trade shows?

As the last two years have proven, we can’t necessarily predict what the future holds. What we can do is work closely with our communities to understand what will make them feel safe to participate and engage with our events. We see growing demand for return to in-person events in all industries we serve, and we are working closely with our venues to continue to implement the appropriate health and safety measures as warranted by the current level of risk when each event is running. Right now, this is not a cookie cutter approach. Each region, industry, and even month of an event all have different needs and definitions of what is currently the optimum operational scenario. I do feel we are reaching a new stage of the pandemic where an individual’s choice about risk levels and mitigation will become more of a factor in planning and decision making.

Reach Greg Topalian at (203) 550-2139 or greg.topalian@clarionevents.com