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Blue Jackets, Cavs, NCAA plan to play Ohio games with fans

Baseball's Opening Day in Seattle may be jeopardized by coronavirus
US coach John Tortorella warns players not to join Kaepernick's protest
Posted at 9:43 AM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 09:47:26-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

For now, Ohio's pro sports teams and NCAA officials say they plan to keep games open to fans despite Gov. Mike DeWine's recommendation that indoor sporting events be closed to the public due to coronavirus fears.

Two organizations, the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the Mid-American Conference, have restricted fans from their tournaments.

Meanwhile, baseball's Opening Day has come into question in Seattle, the U.S. city hardest hit by coronavirus, and cancellations of soccer matches in Europe are increasing.

The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets said they did not plan to keep fans away from home games Thursday and Saturday but will continue to monitor the situation, according to a statement on their website,

The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, who are on a six-game road trip and don't play at home again until March 24, have not responded and are apparently waiting on developments.

For now, the NCAA says it plans to go ahead with scheduled men's basketball tournament games in Dayton and Cleveland next week. The NCAA released a statement three hours after the DeWine’s Tuesday announcement saying it “continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct or our tournaments and events.”

“We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days,” the NCAA said.

The Ohio high school association has made plans to allow families of players and coaches to buy a limited number of tickets. Winter tournaments include boys and girls basketball, wrestling and ice hockey.

The Mid-American Conference, which includes Miami University, announced its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Cleveland this week would be closed to the general public. The Miami men's team is scheduled to face Northern Illinois on Thursday afternoon.

The University of Cincinnati canceled its spring football game scheduled for April 10.

None of the four major leagues have restricted fans or canceled games, but with Opening Day only two weeks away, Major League Baseball could soon face crucial decisions.

In Seattle, the Mariners are set to host the Texas Rangers on March 26 in the first of seven consecutive home games, but Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to ban gatherings and events of more than 250 people in virtually the entire Seattle area, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. The Mariners and Major League Baseball had no immediate comment, but the decision could force MLB to move the games or bar fans from the Mariners’ stadium.

Of the 29 known deaths in the U.S., 24 have been in the Seattle area, with 19 tied to a single nursing home.

Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos said Tuesday he is concerned about traveling to Seattle.

“I know the season starts in Seattle, and we know how Seattle is right now,” Chirinos said. “That’s 2½ weeks from now, so I think we’re going to hear some news when we’re getting close to Opening Day.”

In California, where several sports events have been canceled, Gov. Gavin Newsom questioned why the major leagues weren’t moving more aggressively.

“I find it quite curious that the four major organizations — NHL, MLS, MLB and NBA — put out guidelines to protect their athletes but not their fans,” said Newsom, referring to the leagues’ new restrictions banning all but players and team personnel from locker rooms.

After the NBA told teams last week to prepare for the possibility of playing games in empty arenas, Lakers star LeBron James initially said he wanted no part of and would not play, but James said Tuesday he would do whatever the NBA tells teams to do.

The NHL said it is assessing the impact of a decision by Santa Clara County health officials in California to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people in response to the spread of the virus. The San Jose Sharks have games scheduled for March 19, 21 and 29.

Also in California, one of the year’s biggest tennis tournaments, at Indian Wells in California, was canceled. The Big West Conference announced it would ban the public from its men’s and women’s tournaments this week at Honda Center in Anaheim.

USC and UCLA said all of its home athletic events will be held without fans at least until April 10, or until further notice. That would include first- and second-round NCAA women’s tournament games likely to be hosted by UCLA.

Discussions about next steps have been ongoing for weeks as postponements and fan restrictions have become common in Europe. The fear has also spread to Asia — particularly about the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Early Wednesday, London-based football club Arsenal announced that its players would be self-isolating because of possible exposure to the virus, forcing the postponement of its Premier League game at Manchester City. It was the first Premier League game called off because of the virus and the first possible exposure involving players in a major sports league.

Champions League soccer matches are also being affected, including next week’s game between Barcelona and Napoli in Spain and Bayern Munich against Chelsea in Germany. Both games will be played without fans,

Scores of other top-tier soccer games in Germany, Spain, France and Portugal, as well as a European Championship qualifying match in Slovakia, will be played in empty stadiums in coming days.

In Germany, the Bundesliga said six of nine games this week will be played without fans, including one of Germany’s biggest rivalries, Borussia Dortmund against Schalke.

The Spanish league said matches in its first and second divisions will be played without fans for at least two weeks. The league said it was “prioritizing the health of fans, players, club employees, journalists, etc., due to the COVID-19 health crisis.”

The French league said soccer matches in its top two divisions will be played without fans until April 15 and Portugal announced similar measures. Italy earlier this week said all sports events, including Serie A soccer games and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics, were suspended until April 3. The Italian ski team decided not to send competitors to Slovenia for the last World Cup races of the season.

The Noord-Brabant province in the Netherlands called off all professional soccer matches for the rest of this week. The province includes Eindhoven, where the U.S. is scheduled to play the Dutch national team in an exhibition on March 26. The U.S. Soccer Federation said it is monitoring the situation there and in Cardiff, where the Americans are to play Wales four days later.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.