CES 2020 may have unknowingly contributed to international spread of COVID-19

A recent account of positive COVID-19 test results shows that the virus may have been in circulation on the show floor at CES 2020.


The Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020) has long since come and gone this year in a time when nobody knew just how dangerous and easily spread that the COVID-19 coronavirus could be. Though alarms were not high at the time, the event very well could have been a catalyst for international spread of the disease according to a recent account of a CES 2020 attendee who tested positive and apparently recovered from the illness well before they ever knew they had it.

It was one Michael Webber who spoke to his recent experience with a doctor and the revelation that he had suffered through COVID-19 infection following attendance of CES 2020, as reported on APM Reports on April 24, 2020. Formerly a regular international traveler between the United States and France, Webber learned from his doctor that recent antibody tests revealed he had been infected with and recovered from COVID-19. Webber was one of around 170,000 attendees that had participated in the events of CES 2020 during the dates of January 7 to January 10, 2020.

CES 2020 bragged of 170,000 attendees from over 160 countries at its event. Unfortunately, this also could account for one origin of the international spread of COVID-19.
CES 2020 boasted 170,000 attendees from over 160 countries at its event. Unfortunately, this also could explain one origin of the international spread of COVID-19.

CES 2020, of course, took place well before anyone knew just how easily transmissible or dangerous the new strain of coronavirus really was. Webber, like many, probably believed he just caught a usual bug that travelers often muse about after attending large public events. It speaks, however, to a possible factor of international spread of the pandemic in the time since it truly came into the world’s radar. Attendees of CES 2020 come from all over the world to attend the show. The CES organizers themselves toted the above 170,000 attendee count alongside a mention that over 160 countries were represented at the event. Shacknews was also among the attendees present at the show.

It also likely doesn’t help that events like PAX East 2020 continued even as groups like PlayStation backed out of the event due to the growing concern at the time. PAX East still went on as events like GDC 2020, E3 2020, gamescom 2020 and many more were canceled soon after (PAX West 2020 is still slated to happen later this year).

Folks like Webber or events like CES 2020 that occurred very early this year are likely not solely to blame at all, given the clear lack of information that existed at the time, but they also unfortunately point to a possibility of how easily COVID-19 was able to spread worldwide and become a pandemic. As efforts continue worldwide to curb the virus and support relief efforts against it, better understanding of how it began and to what the extent of the spread is will hopefully aid in efforts to educate people on how to avoid and curtail the virus once and for all.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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