Although New Orleans officials originally believed they could start welcoming conventioneers back to their city December 1, they have now cancelled all large conventions through March, including several scientific societies' annual meetings.

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau adjusted its deadline after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decided to take over the Convention Center as its headquarters through March. Conventions with 3,000 to 5,000 attendees or more generally need that space for exhibitors, according to Donna Karl, the bureau's Chicago-based vice president for client relations. In addition, she said, damage to the building won't be totally repaired until the end of December. The bureau will let smaller meetings take place in hotels starting January 1, Karl noted, and all hotels should be ready for occupancy 30 days from now.

Annual biomedical conferences that must now be rescheduled include the late-January meeting of the Society of Critical Care Medicine...

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