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'Nothing Short of a Model'

CTA Says It Can’t Confirm How Many Caught COVID at CES 2022

CTA is “aware of media reports” that some who participated in person at CES 2022 tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning home, emailed a spokesperson Thursday, responding to our queries about a Korea Herald report that Samsung dispatched chartered flights to Las Vegas to bring home about 20 Samsung staff members and executives who tested positive and were stuck in town, unable to get on planes with a negative test. “We don’t have confirmation of the number of cases as it is extremely difficult to determine exactly when and where anyone contracted COVID-19,” said the CTA spokesperson.

CTA offered to pay the cost of an onsite polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 test at first-aid stations in the Las Vegas Convention Center and other show venues for international CES 2022 visitors who needed to show their airlines proof of a negative result within 72 hours before boarding their overseas flights home (see 2112170033). Those who tested positive onsite were ineligible to board their scheduled flights, and The Korea Herald report said that’s why Samsung dispatched the charter flights to Las Vegas.

Several who attended CES 2022 took to social media during and after the show to remark about the pre-pandemic-like crowds they observed in the Samsung booth in the LVCC's Central Hall despite CTA policies to promote social distancing at the show. CTA earlier this week sidestepped our questions about the Samsung crowds, and the company itself didn't respond to our queries.

CTA policy required confiscating the badges of those testing positive onsite and sending them back to their hotels for at least five days of isolation. “Results from testing done onsite by medical staff were reported” to local health authorities, said te CTA spokesperson.The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) didn’t comment.

If a CES 2022 attendee who's not a Clark County, Nevada, resident tests positive for COVID-19 after returning home from Las Vegas, it routinely doesn't get reported to Clark County but to the patient’s state or local health department, emailed the SNHD days before the show (see 2201030047). It’s the same protocol that was in place two years ago when no direct link could be made between CES 2020 and COVID-19 infections throughout the country, and points to the difficulty of confirming whether COVID-19 can be traced directly to CES 2022.

CES 2022 "had very robust health protocols developed with the advice of health care professionals and government safety officials,” said the CTA spokesperson. “The requirements for proof of vaccination and masking in all CES indoor venues, as well as providing self testing kits for all attendees, helped us create a safer environment for our exhibitors, members and attendees.” CTA required proof of two doses of a multidose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, but didn’t require boosters. Those who tested positive using the Abbott Labs BinaxNOW rapid antigen self-test kits distributed free at CES 2022 badge pickup locations weren't required to report their positive results to CTA.

The CTA spokesperson directed our attention Thursday to a statement from U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow hailing CES 2022 as "nothing short of a model for how business trade events can and should take place in 2022." The statement was dated Jan. 6, day two of CES 2022. "It is our sincere hope that other professional event organizers will follow their lead this year," said Dow. "The health and safety protocols in place at the Las Vegas Convention Center and throughout the hotel and hospitality community has further enabled the safe return of this and other major events."