CHICAGO – McDonald’s Corp. canceled the company’s Worldwide Convention 2020 in response to the new coronavirus outbreak. Chris Kempczinski, chief executive officer, appeared in a video speaking directly to the “McFamily.”

Kempczinski said the decision to cancel the event was based on insights from managing directors and franchisee leadership in addition to extensive travel restrictions, input from the World Health Organization and other local and global health authorities.

“This decision was not made lightly,” he said. “I for one was really looking forward to my first convention as CEO, and I appreciate the significance of this announcement for the system. We’re not alone; countries and companies alike are reassessing large gatherings. The magic of our Worldwide Convention always happens when we come together from more than 100 countries for four days in Orlando. But this year, we know that our customers and our communities need us doing what we do better than anyone else, serving as leaders. When we do that, McDonald’s is at our very best.”

McDonald’s is planning a digital convention in place of the biennial in-person gathering held in Orlando, Fla.

“While I wish our system can come together this year, I can promise you this: We can do something truly special,” Kempczinski said. “We can change the format to a digital experience and host the most inclusive Worldwide Convention in our history. We will still find ways to recognize and celebrate our success and share our exciting vision of the future.”

The new coronavirus can cause the disease COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019. Fever, cough and shortness of breath may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Some case patients have reported mild symptoms, but some people with underlying medical complications can develop severe illness.

The Atlanta-based CDC reported a total of 164 cases of the coronavirus and 11 deaths as of March 3 in the United States. This number includes both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since Jan. 21, 2020. It does not include testing results for persons repatriated to the United States from Japan and Wuhan, China.

 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said in an update delivered March 5 there are currently a total of 95,265 reported cases of the coronavirus globally, and 3,281 deaths.

Outside China, 2,055 cases were reported in 33 countries. Around 80% of those cases continue to come from just three countries.

Ghebreyesus said 115 countries have not reported any cases, and 21 countries have reported only one case. Five countries that had reported cases have not reported new cases in the past 14 days, he said.