While cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. remain limited, concerns of a potential outbreak are causing event organizers to consider the risk of business-as-usual.
Even major events on the sports calendar — like the upcoming NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments — could be threatened by an outbreak.
USA Today reports that while preparations for the tournaments are ongoing, NCAA officials are keeping an eye on the coronavirus.
“NCAA staff continues to prepare for March Madness but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordinating with state/local health authorities and the CDC,” NCAA associate director of communications Chris Radford told USA Today.
The NCAA issued two memos sharing Centers for Disease Control resources on coronavirus symptoms, travel and other topics to discuss with campus leadership. Athletics directors, healthcare administrators, conference commissioners, head athletic trainers and team doctors were among those who the NCAA shared the memos with, according to USA Today.
“Regarding championship play for the winter and spring seasons, the NCAA is taking concerted steps to maintain the first-rate delivery of NCAA championship experiences for participating student-athletes, team personnel and fans,” read the second of the two memos.
“Championships staff members will implement their health and safety checklist in conjunction with host schools and conferences and their community partners and will monitor COVID-19 developments through the NCAA Sport Science Institute. As they would with any public health crisis, championships staff will add appropriate safeguards in coordination with campus and local health response teams to address COVID-19 concerns.”
The NCAA has encouraged member schools to “implement, as necessary, appropriate risk-mitigating initiatives.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a Tuesday news conference that Americans should prepare for the virus’ arrival, and that disruption to everyday life could be “severe.”
“Ultimately, we expect to see community spread in this country,” Messonnier said.