LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County declared a public health emergency on Wednesday amid the spread of coronavirus around the country, which includes six additional cases in the county. As of now, this won’t affect any local sporting events, including upcoming games at Dodger Stadium.
“At this time, there are no plans to postpone or cancel spring training or regular season games,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said Wednesday.
The Dodgers have two scheduled Freeway Series games against the Angels on March 23-24, with construction still ongoing in the pavilion. Opening day is March 26, when the Dodgers start a three-game series against the Giants.
The Department of Health stressed caution and preparation:
“Although there is no current need for significant social distancing measures in LA County, and the individual risk for contracting COVID-19 remains low for most individuals in the County, all community members should take the opportunity to plan for the possibility of more significant social distancing requirements should there be broad community spread.”
LA County health director Barbara Ferrer described what would be a worst-case scenario for local sporting events to Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times (he was asking specifically about LAFC and Galaxy soccer games): “This could be that games are played but there are no spectators. This could be that there are limits to how people are going to gather ... But I want to reassure everyone we are not there today.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Wednesday that a team doctor would address Dodgers players Friday morning in Arizona, educating them on personal hygiene and awareness of coronavirus.
Kasten expanded in a statement:
“The Los Angeles Dodgers consider the safety of our fans, players and staff to be of the highest importance. With that in mind, we are currently monitoring and receiving information about the outbreak from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the LA County Public Health Department, UCLA Health and Major League Baseball. The coronavirus presents a fluid situation which can change rapidly. As such, we will continue to work with experts in the field of contagious diseases and MLB to stay current on the matter. The LA County Health Department and UCLA Health are providing us with regular updates and information. In addition, we have assembled an internal task force to provide ongoing critical information to our staff.”
Elsewhere, both Chicago State and Missouri-Kansas City refused to participate in scheduled college basketball games this week at Seattle, with Chicago State also dropping a Saturday game at Utah Valley. But for now, baseball hasn’t been as affected.
As of yet MLB hasn’t canceled any spring training or regular season games but reportedly formed a task force to prepare for the next few months, per Jeff Passan at ESPN. A memo sent to teams suggested various ways to prepare, including among other things avoiding handshakes, and not taking pens or balls to sign directly from fans.
That jives with suggestions made by LA County for the public at large to at least prepare should conditions get worse, including “practicing simple social distancing strategies that limit your exposure to others who may be ill (verbal salutations in place of handshakes and hugs, not sharing utensils, cups and linens, staying six feet apart from others at public events).”