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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After more than 18 months in their respective bubbles, thousands in the health care industry returned this week for what was, for many, their first in-person health care conference since the pandemic began.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant wanes and more events actually occur in person, each comes with its own health protocols and awkward navigation of health-friendly business etiquette.

At HLTH's last in-person conference, hosted in Las Vegas two years ago, attendees were greeted with glasses of mimosas before grabbing their badges.

  • This year, in Boston, those who hadn't brought their own COVID-negative test results were greeted with testing swabs.
  • Attendees had to show proof of vaccination; were required to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event or get a negative rapid test on-site; and all were required to wear masks for the duration of the conference.
  • But — not looking to be too much of a buzzkill — organizers brought puppies into the test waiting area. Juice shots were also offered.

State of play: Conference-goers marveled at the novelty of recognizing masked-up business contacts while they figured out how close it was socially acceptable to sit.

  • Green, yellow or red wristbands signaled comfort with handshakes and hugs, a preference for elbow-bumps, or a need for distance.
  • Hand sanitizers and face masks joined vendors' swag offerings.

Between the lines: One of the biggest changes from previous events is that individuals at the conference weren't willing to waste any of their time for what they saw as low-value, because it had been so long since they'd been able to network in person, said Melynda Barnes, chief medical officer of Ro.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 19, 2021 - Health

We're still not taking the pandemic seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

20 months after pandemic lockdowns first began in the U.S., government institutions and the public are still struggling to manage COVID-19 as the emergency it is.

Why it matters: Past crises, from the Great Depression to 9/11, led to lasting changes in American society and governance. But institutional inflexibility has left us at risk of further COVID waves and disruption and unprepared for the inevitable next pandemic.

Updated 58 mins ago - Health

Massage, facial, pedicure... intravenous drip?

A salon on the Upper East Side of New York that offers IV drip therapies. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

IV drips — the kind you might get if you're rushed to the hospital — are trending as a spa treatment, thanks in part to endorsements by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Madonna.

Why it matters: Like other "wellness" trends with a whiff of medical imprimatur, IV nutrient drips can be harmless or mildly restorative — or go awry, particularly in the wrong hands.

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.