The Council on Foreign Relations has nixed a conference on “Doing Business Under Coronavirus,” apparently not wanting to risk actually doing its business under the coronavirus epidemic laying siege to New York City.
The notorious think tank cancelled the talk, scheduled for Friday, as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 crept up to 36 in New York on Tuesday. Details of the event were elusive – it’s not listed on the organization’s website, and it’s not clear who was supposed to attend.
However, after an unknown number of attendees at both the Conservative Political Action Conference and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee were exposed to the coronavirus during both gatherings last weekend in Washington DC, the CFR likely opted to err on the side of caution rather than risk infecting its elite invitees.
It has cancelled the rest of its roundtable conferences through April 3 as well.
The CFR conference was far from the only event in New York to be struck from the calendar thanks to the epidemic.
The New York City Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, has been cancelled, while the New York International Auto Show, set for next month, has been moved to late summer.
New York Mayor Bill deBlasio appears determined to hold next Tuesday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, however, even as Boston and Philadelphia cancel theirs.
While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called in the National Guard to maintain quarantine in the NYC suburb of New Rochelle, no restrictions have yet been placed on freedom of movement for residents of the city itself.
However, the military detachment will enforce a two-week ban on large gatherings within the one-mile “containment area” set up around the Young Israel synagogue where Westchester County’s apparent Patient Zero was a member of the congregation.
New York state has 173 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the majority (108) located in Westchester County, rather than New York City proper.
Thousands of New York and Westchester residents are under “precautionary quarantine,” and dozens are under “mandatory quarantine,” meaning they’ve either tested positive for the virus, had close contact with someone who has, or recently visited an at-risk country and returned with symptoms.
The COVID-19 cases who exposed other AIPAC attendees are believed to have come from the Westchester cluster, according to the Israeli lobbying group, which hosted some 18,000 people at its yearly conclave – including a significant foreign contingent.
Israel has adopted one of the most stringent approaches to the epidemic, closing borders and advising its citizens to avoid all travel, but the AIPAC snafu led the country’s health ministry to issue an order to all returnees from “international conferences abroad” to self-quarantine.
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