Amid Uncertainty of the Delta Variant, Research Shows Attending In-Person Business Events Safer Than Daily Activities Like Going to the Grocery Store

August 24, 2021

Dallas, TX (August 24, 2021) — As the Delta Variant causes uncertainty around returning to normal activities, new primary research and predictive modeling shows that attending large in-person business events are safer than many daily activities and that hosting the events does not increase local COVID-19 case rates. In fact, for recent August events, the infection rates were as much as 95 percent lower than the U.S. at large. Modeling found risks of infection at events to be as much as eight times less than the metro area where they were being held.

Attendee vaccination rates, the controllable nature of events, and a correlation between the eagerness of participants to return to events with their willingness to adopt additional health and safety protocols are key factors.

The findings are the result of a research partnership between Freeman, a global leader in events, and Epistemix, a computational modeling software company that develops simulations to fight disease and inform public health policy.

“Based on the data we’ve seen, attending an in-person event is no riskier—in fact, less risky than essential daily activities,” said Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck. “Businesses and organizations want to get back to events for critical commerce, networking, and exchange of ideas. This research provides the framework for doing so safely.”

Other key findings include:

  • In-person business event participants are more likely to be vaccinated than the U.S. population, reflecting a vaccination rate above 80 percent and creating vaccination coverage that drastically cuts transmission of COVID-19 at those events regardless of the gathering size.
  • Despite some concerns over the Delta variant, the majority of attendees and exhibitors want to return to in-person events, and over 90 percent are not opposed to additional health and safety protocols to enable them to gather safely. Further, those who do not support additional protocols say they instead choose to stay home, mitigating any added risks of potential infections.

Freeman, a global leader in events, has been tracking participant sentiment with over 3 million responses to date. This is the largest industry panel available on attitudes and behaviors related to COVID-19 and in-person business events.

Epistemix, a computational modeling software company that develops simulations to fight disease and inform policy of the CDC, WHO and the federal, state, and local government, has developed a robust approach that enables it to model the risk of infection and subsequent impact on local hospitals due to in-person business events. The modeling represents more than two dozen cities and key event destinations with back-testing confirming its model forecasts.

“We recognize the current rise in Delta variant cases has led some event organizers and exhibitors to consider cancellations,” said John Cordier, CEO and Co-founder of Epistemix. “Our modeling and these data can help show organizers and public health officials replace that uncertainty with confidence to plan safe events.”

The business events industry is a growth engine essential to local economies and businesses that are heavily reliant on the spending brought about by foot traffic and travel from events. The impact of not having business events is felt by exhibitors that depend on events to meet customers and make sales, and the service providers, whose workers have been out of work for over 18 months.

Pre-pandemic, in-person events contributed almost $400 billion in direct economic impact (or 1.8 percent of the U.S. GDP) — more than computer and electronic products manufacturing, auto manufacturing, and the arts, entertainment and recreation industries, just to name a few.

About Freeman

Freeman is a global leader in events. Whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid, we are on a mission to redefine live for a new era. With a data-driven approach and the industry’s largest network of experts, our insights shape exhibitions, exhibits, and events that drive audiences to action. Our integrated full-service solutions leverage a 100-year legacy in event management as well as new technologies to deliver moments that matter.

About Epistemix

Epistemix empowers leaders to make better decisions by simulating how diseases, ideas, and behavior spread through communities. We leverage decades of epidemiological experience, diverse datasets, and scientific best-practice to build computational models that forecast the health impacts of policy interventions, so that organizations can take informed action. We are currently working with companies, event organizers, school districts, and state governments across the United States to evaluate opening strategies and gauge COVID-19 response. To learn more, visit

Freeman will share highlights of the research and take questions in a webinar on August 24 at 2 pm CST. To request an invitation, contact [email protected].

Contact: Andrea Wood, [email protected]

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