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Conventioneers say healthy habits keep them from fearing coronavirus

At a home health care conference that began Tuesday and runs through Thursday at Mandalay Bay, there wasn’t a single mask to be seen.

And colleagues gathering from around the nation that hadn’t seen each other in awhile hugged.

Some even shook hands.

The message at MedTradeSpring, a three-day conference and trade show sponsored by the American Association for Homecare, was clear: It’s okay to gather as a group as long as you take normal health precautions when you meet.

“Over the years, I’ve traveled a lot so I’ve been exposed to a lot of colds, flu, H1N1, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), the whole gamut,” said Susean Nichols of Long Beach, California. “As far as work or being on a plane, even many years ago working in a hospital and working with patients who had (tuberculosis), HIV or (Hepatitis B) you need to learn about what personal protective equipment you would need to use and how to use it correctly.”

But Nichols and others attending the event said they had no fear of catching anything as long as they were careful. They acknowledged that the coronavirus scare may be a little overblown.

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“Yes, it’s something you need to be concerned with, but it’s something that can be handled with regular hygiene,” said Tyler Justice, who is attending the conference from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. “They’re (other trade shows) a little more worried than they should be. Be cautious, especially with something that has popped up like this. But at the same time, take care of yourself and you’ll be fine, I think.

“That means wash your hands.”

Dylan Parrish, attending the conference from Gig Harbor, Washington, said he thinks organizations that are canceling their events are being overly cautious. But he added that some of his travelling companions went the extra mile to be prepared when they flew to Las Vegas.

Because they work at a pharmacy, they were able to easily get the supplies they needed, including a package of germicidal disposable surface wipes.

“We tried to avoid touching door handles,” he said. “It almost became kind of a game … how many things can you not touch and still get on the plane? We cleaned our seats, too, before we sat down on the plane.”

Parrish said his biggest concern regarding the coronavirus scare was the health of his two daughters, ages 4 months and 2 — especially knowing that Washington is the only state in the country that has had coronavirus deaths.

“I don’t want them getting sick,” he said. “If they get sick, they’re so young, you can’t really give them anything.”

The health of loved ones at home was also the key consideration for Nichols in her decision to travel to Las Vegas for the conference.

“The only thing that would have made me cancel would be family health issues at home and not the virus,” she said.

There was no indication of how many people may have stayed away from MedTradeSpring. Association representatives would not discuss attendance or whether they ever contemplated canceling their event. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, on its convention calendar, estimated attendance at the show would be 2,500.

Show attendees didn’t shake hands after being interviewed.

They just waved.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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