Health Journalism 2022: COVID-19 

We continue to closely monitor the situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) and variants with your safety very much in mind. All conference attendees will be prompted via text message to provide proof of vaccination and appropriate booster before arriving in Austin at the conference. Waivers for medical and religious exemptions will also be accepted. Masking and social distancing will be part of the mix at the conference. 

We encourage you to review the recommendations of the CDC for everyday precautions to help reduce the spread of respiratory diseases. However, masking will be required at the conference in all meeting rooms, corridors and other spaces where social distancing may be difficult. Speakers will be permitted to remove their masks when speaking and answering questions. A cloth mask alone will not meet the requirement. (A limited number of KN95 masks will be available at the registration desk.)

Our meeting and accommodations are at the Hilton Austin. Hilton properties promises a number of precautions to assure guests that rooms, conference spaces and all other hotel facilities are clean and safe for conference participants.  

COVID-19 protocols

The Hilton Austin has established the following protocols: 

  • requiring that all Hilton employees be masked, out of an abundance of caution, even those who are vaccinated; 

  • sanitization stations in the public spaces, meeting room foyers and meeting rooms; 

  • meeting room sanitization with Lysol before use, and food /beverage service that is as contact-free as possible; 

  • Digital Key/Digital check-in for most Hilton Honors guests, which eliminates the check-in process and allows you to go directly to your room with your phone acting as room key. 

Air filtration

The air handlers that supply air to the fourth and sixth floors of the hotel were installed recently to improve air filtration. These are the two floors where all AHCJ sessions will take place.

  • The units are programmed to draw in 20% outside air.

  • The outside air intake will adjust based on CO2 monitors in the return air system — too many people in a space creates too much CO2 and can cause drowsiness/stale air.  The system will open vents to allow more fresh air into the space, if needed.

  • The filtration system consists of a 2-inch MERV 8 pre-filter and a 4-inch MERV 14 filter, which stop particles from passing through. (MERV is a rating for air filters).

  • The unit is also fitted with UV lights, which kill airborne COVID-19 particles, along with any other airborne contaminants, according to research.

  • Both guestrooms and lobby areas have industry-standard MERV 8 filtration and draw in approximately 10% outside air.

    • The lobby has a steady flow of outside air, due to external doors.

    • Guestroom hallways are supplied with 100% conditioned outside air which is then 100% exhausted.

Information about COVID-19 infection rates and other data for Austin, which is located in Travis County, is available on the county website. 

Listed below are links to the major airlines’ COVID-19 protocols: 

Direct any questions about the ways AHCJ is planning to make the conference experience as safe as possible to Susan Cunningham at