Health & Safety

The safety of our members and guests is our top priority for the ISHC Conference in Chicago. We are partnering with Fusion Cell, a team of military-trained public health experts to determine the protocols for the safest reasonable setting for collaboration and reconnecting while in Chicago. We are working with a board-certified Epidemiologist from Fusion Cell to ensure the conference follows CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health and Marriott protocols. He will be on-site for the conference to answer any questions and address any concerns. Additionally, he will also be presenting to the group on Thursday at the start of the General Session program.

Below are the current protocols for our event, what you need to do to get ready for the conference, FAQs and valuable resources whether you are traveling domestically or internationally.

There is one caveat...all plans are subject to change as the COVID environment dictates. We will continue to keep you informed as we get closer to conference. If you have questions, please reach out to Lauren or Andrea.


1. All attendees are required to obtain a COVID PCR Test

You (and your guest) will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 3 days of when you check-in to the Conference and pick up your namebadge.

2. Masks are strongly encouraged indoors

The state of Illinois has issued a mask mandate. Masks will be required on ISHC-provided transportation and are strongly encouraged indoors when not eating or drinking.  

3. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently - especially before eating

There will be an abundance of hand sanitizer at the event. We ask that everyone washes and/or sanitizes their hands multiple times throughout the day. Marriott currently allows self-served items to be provided. There will be hand sanitizer at tables to further reduce the risk of transmission from high-touch surfaces. It is noted that the CDC has quantified the risk of infection from a high-touch surface at less than 1 in 10,000.

4. As much as possible, keep a safe distance

The area will be set up to support, as practical, social distancing requirements. It is asked that tables and chairs stay where they are set up to support physical distancing between individuals. It is understood that a large part of this conference is networking. Short periods of close interactions are okay. We ask that participants try to limit close, mask-off, interactions to under 15 minutes.

5. If you feel ill, steer clear and go get a COVID test asap

It is requested that anyone who feels ill does not attend a daily event until he or she can get a COVID test. A list of community testing sites can be found HERE. Please contact the Andrea Belfanti at (678) 973-2242 if you feel ill.


Why are you requiring a test and not proof of vaccine?
Due to the potential for vaccinated individuals to contract and spread the virus, the safest option for having the 2021 ISHC Annual Conference in person is to require all attendees to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 3 days of arrival to the conference, regardless of vaccine status. Our epidemiologist partner, Fusion Cell, tells us that if all attendees provide a negative test within the 3 day window, the chances of a conference attendee catching the virus from another conference attendee in Chicago is very low. Very low sounds pretty great to us! (there is still a risk of contracting the virus during travels or while in Chicago and spreading the virus once attendees return home) 

Why are you requiring 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
We will use a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the attendee. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of arrival or the time of day that the test was administered. For example, if you arrive at the conference on Thursday you have to have a test that was taken Monday or after.

I’m bringing a spouse/guest with me who will be attending the social events, does he or she need to get tested?
We LOVE having your guests at the social events, they bring the fun! Yes, they will also need to have a negative test within 3 days of arrival to the conference.

Who is checking to make sure that attendees have a negative test?
We are working through the logistics and plan to have an update soon.

What types of SARS-CoV-2 tests are acceptable?
We STRONGLY recommend that you get a PCR test! This is the gold standard for COVID testing and will help us meet our goal of a safe event. If, for some reason you cannot get access to a PCR test, we will make an exception for a rapid test.

If an attendee has a negative test, but was in close contact of a known COVID case, can that attendee still come?
If you have a negative PCR test, are vaccinated and show no signs or symptoms, please come to the conference and be extra diligent about masking up and elbow bumping.

What if I am fully vaccinated?
With regards to the Delta variant, data indicates that vaccines are about 50% effective against contracting and 95% effective against serious illness and hospitalization. This means that although vaccinated folks have a low likelihood of ending up in the hospital, they can still become infected and contagious. This is why we are requiring ALL attendees to provide proof of a negative COVID PCR test regardless of vaccination status. 

What if I recently recovered from COVID-19?
If you have completed your 10 days of isolation, please provide a negative PCR test OR physician's note saying you have completely recovered - and then by all means come join us! 

What happens if I test positive?
You should stay home and plan to come next year!

Can I get an exemption or waiver to the testing requirement?
We can’t think of a reason for an exemption but feel free to reach out to Andrea if you think you’ve got a good one.

Are masks going to be required?
We will follow whatever the local requirements are for masks. Currently as it stands we will be wearing masks indoors per the state of Illinois mandate regardless of vaccination status. 

The conference isn’t happening tomorrow, what if things keep changing?
We fully expect circumstances to continue to change. We will do our best to make the best decisions we can, with advice from experts and the leadership of our Board of Directors to make sure we have a safe and fun event.


The Gwen Hotel
The Gwen Hotel has implemented the Marriott protocols for COVID prevention. Specific interventions include MERV 8 filtration for fresh air, MERV 13 filtration for recirculated air. This is inline with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations, and allows for airborne protection. There is increased attention to sanitation. The Gwen uses a quaternary ammonium solution with an EPA List N verified COVID kill time of 1 minute. Additionally, there are protocols for high touch surfaces and the use of electrostatic sprayers. The Gwen Hotel has addressed the air within the space, and the surfaces that will be in contact with members. The building has taken reasonable steps to create a reasonably safe environment for a conference.

Domestic Travel to Chicago
Chicago has a travel advisory that is updated each Tuesday. If you arrive from a state that is“orange” tier, you may be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 3 days of arrival to Chicago. Any participants arriving from a “yellow” tier state do not currently need to quarantine or show proof of either negative test or vaccination.

International Travel to Chicago
All air passengers coming to the United States regardless of vaccination status are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States. The most up-to-date CDC recommendations can be found HERE.