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Qualtrics rescheduling big user conference as organizers and institutions keep close watch on COVID-19

Event was to feature former first lady Michelle Obama next week in Salt Lake

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Michelle Obama participates in the International Day of the Girl on NBC’s “Today” show in New York on Oct. 11, 2018.

Charles Sykes/Invision/Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah tech giant Qualtrics announced Tuesday it is rescheduling its annual X4 user summit, an event featuring Michelle Obama and expected to draw some 16,000 attendees next week, due to coronavirus concerns.

Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith shared the news in a tweet Tuesday after making the announcement to company employees.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and health of our employees, customers and partners,” Smith wrote. “We’ve been actively monitoring the global developments surrounding coronavirus day and night. Due to the evolving situation, we’re rescheduling X4 to early fall.”

The Provo-born customer experience innovation company has turned booking heavyweight speakers into a running modus operandi for its user conference, which last year drew some 11,000 attendees, and this year’s version was no exception. The company had former first lady Michelle Obama, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, Hollywood start Matthew McConaughey and others slated to speak over the four-day event, which was scheduled at the Salt Palace Convention Center for March 10-13.

The reschedule follows an announcement made last week by Utah business analytics software innovatorDomo that it would morph its annual Domopalooza user conference, previously scheduled at the Salt Palace Convention Center March 17-20, to an online streaming event.

While concerns over coronavirus have impacted these two tech company conferences, other big local gatherings scheduled in the coming weeks appear to still be on track.

Visit Salt Lake communications director Shawn Stinson said his team is also closely monitoring issues related to COVID-19 but said other than Domo, no other major events scheduled for the Salt Palace have changed course. Stinson said many events draw primarily from a domestic audience and that Domo was expecting a significant number of international participants, which likely played a role in its decision. He also noted that issues related to the virus are in a constant state of flux right now.

“It’s a fluid situation and we’re definitely working to stay as informed as we can,” Stinson said. “So far, there just haven’t been any major changes.”

Besides convention and conference activity, it appears coronavirus concerns have not impacted upcoming events at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Besides a slew of Utah Jazz home games in the coming weeks, the arena will also be playing host to long-scheduled concerts by Post Malone, Cèline Dion and Cher. And the popular Disney on Ice tour is still set for eight performances later this week.

Vivint Arena spokesman Frank Zang said while any decisions to alter scheduled events falls to the various organizers and, in the case of the Jazz, NBA administrators, no such changes have yet to take place.

“At the moment, there have been no cancellations or changes to events due to (coronavirus) concerns,” Zang said.

So far, coronavirus issues have not disrupted any upcoming events at either the University of Utah or BYU, though both schools have enacted some travel restrictions for faculty and students.

Spokespersons at both schools said neither has made any changes to upcoming sporting or student events, though BYU is discouraging travel to areas with known coronavirus outbreaks, like China and South Korea, and the U. has a similar advisory in place, but also includes some domestic locations like Seattle, Washington.

U. communications director Chris Nelson said school leaders are in a constant monitoring mode and are closely following guidance from federal and local health officials. He noted there is a campus working group meeting daily and the school is also participating in a state task force announced Monday by Gov. Gary Herbert. The Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force is headed up by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

While big public events in the state, where officials have yet to confirm a COVID-19 infection contracted in Utah, remain mostly unaffected so far, numerous events in other areas of the country and around the globe are opting for cancellations or switching events to online.

Up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and the coronavirus can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov.