Majority of Louisiana's sporting events remain unchanged amidst virus fears
With one reported case of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as of Monday afternoon, state leaders are encouraging residents to take precautions against the spread of the virus.
A list of the measures that various Louisiana sports teams are taking to avoid contamination are detailed below:
Saints and Pelicans
According to The Advocate, the New Orleans Pelicans are following NBA-issued procedures to halt the spread of COVID-19.
This includes limiting all locker-room access to non-essential personnel.
The NBA previously announced it is considering closing arenas to all non-essential personnel and playing games without fans if the virus continues to spread.
The Saints are out of season, with most players and coaches away from their facilities, and The Advocate reports that the team's representatives declined comment.
The state boys basketball championships will proceed as planned in Lake Charles.
Women's Final Four
The NCAA has announced it plans to proceed with its men's and women's basketball tournaments as planned, including the Women's Final Four in New Orleans. The April 3-5 event is still more than three weeks away, however, so plans could change.
Sun Belt Conference
The conference is scheduled to hold the conclusion of its men's and women's basketball tournaments at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans this weekend.
On Monday, Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill released the following statement:
"The Sun Belt Conference is monitoring the situation surrounding concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the news of the first presumptive positive case reported today in the New Orleans area.
"Our office has already been in contact with our member institutions to stress conferring with campus health officials and develop action plans on their respective campuses. We have also encouraged our schools to limit interactions across teams and employ additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and fans.
"At this time, all Sun Belt athletics contests are proceeding as scheduled, including our men's and women's basketball championship games on campus sites this week and at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans this weekend. The Sun Belt office will continue to monitor this situation closely in consultation with our member institutions, local health officials and the Smoothie King Center to make any schedule changes or alter any policies and procedures as needed."
The men's and women's championship games are scheduled for Sunday.
Crescent City Classic
The opening event of the season for the Crescent City Classic is its St. Patrick's Day race on Sunday in Metairie, with the main event April 11.
Race director Eric Stewart said participation levels appear to be at or ahead of last year's pace, with 22,000-24,000 runners expected for the main race. He said the CCC is consulting daily with government health services and doesn't plan to cancel or alter the event unless the outbreak is declared a pandemic in New Orleans.
Southern will host a men's and women doubleheader Tuesday night in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, and Banks said crews are preparing the F.G. Clark Activity Center and Lee Hines Field, which will host a home baseball series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff this weekend, to keep crowds as sanitary and healthy as possible in hopes of limiting any spread of the virus.
"We're heavily sanitizing the facility at the games, the bathrooms, making sure they are stocked up," Banks said. "We're spraying everything down. We know there are a lot of people entering the facilities. Hopefully there will continue to be no problems.
"This is much bigger than we imagined. We've been lucky so far."
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