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Seattle-based companies skip conferences over coronavirus concerns

Amazon and DocuSign are two companies making last minute changes because of concerns over coronavirus.

At DocuSign's downtown Seattle office, employees were just days away from a work trip in San Francisco when a notice was sent out, announcing DocuSign's decision to make the upcoming work conference a virtual one due to concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

In a phone interview, Emily Heath, DocuSign's Chief Trust and Security Officer, said they were expecting about 1,500 people at the conference in San Francisco. The decision to make it a virtual conference with two separate online events was made on Thursday.

"There is so much uncertainty, I think, around this coronavirus right now. We have had an internal task force working on this for a few days, and we came to the conclusion, just with the uncertainty, it is fundamentally just the right thing to do," said Heath.

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Amazon made the decision to withdraw from the upcoming Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. A company spokesperson said they are "asking employees to defer non-essential travel during this time."

Late Friday afternoon, the Game Developers Conference announced the "difficult decision to postpone" the conference.

RELATED: DocuSign cancels in-person conference over coronavirus concerns

Dave Blandford with the non-profit marketing organization, Visit Seattle, said the Washington State Convention Center has not had any cancellations of major conventions related to coronavirus.

In less than two weeks, Emerald City Comic Con is scheduled to be held at the convention center. Microsoft is scheduled to host Build, its annual developer's conference, at the convention center in May.

"We are monitoring very closely. We're talking to all of the groups that are six months out," said Blandford.

Blandford says they have been sharing best protocols for business trips and meetings with event organizers.

"Nothing replaces being there in person. With regard to a global pandemic, the rules change and we get that," Blandford said.

Visit Seattle said with conference cancellations there is always a ripple effect because airlines, hotels, restaurants, and shops can all be impacted.

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