SEC not modifying tourney schedule over coronavirus

SEC officials are providing extra safety measures for the SEC Tournament due to the coronavirus threat. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

The Southeastern Conference Tournament starts Wednesday in Nashville and Monday the SEC issued a statement noting that the schedule would not be altered as of now because of the coronavirus.

Here’s the statement:

The SEC continues to monitor developments associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and has not modified the schedule of events related to our men’s basketball tournament in Nashville. At this time our focus and expectation is to play the tournament as scheduled. Local authorities have confirmed this approach is consistent with current public health recommendations.

We remain alert to any circumstances that could warrant adjustments for the health and well-being of our student-athletes, fans and other participants. We are in continued communication with public health officials and remind everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov).

At this time, the SEC plans to implement the following health precautions at Bridgestone Arena, most of which were also applied during the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville last week. Similar preventive measures will be taken at the SEC Gymnastics Championship March 21 in Duluth, Georgia:

  • Additional hand sanitizers will be present at arena entrances and throughout concourse and in meeting rooms;
  • Use of hospital grade disinfectant to sanitize locker rooms before teams arrive and upon departure;
  • Sanitization of game balls with hospital grade disinfectant after each practice and game;
  • Sanitization of team benches plus band and cheerleader seating areas following each game;
  • Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and Lysol spray in team locker rooms;
  • Hand sanitizers at scorer’s table, in officials’ locker rooms and operations offices;
  • Signage throughout concourse to provide CDC preventive action recommendations

Mississippi State coach  Ben Howland said during the SEC coaches teleconference said he was concerned about the virus.

“I think the coronavirus is a big concern for all of us,” Howland said. “I know over a month ago I elected to cancel our summer tour to Spain. I am just hoping things get under control.”

Then he added a bit of a political statement.

“How can South Korea give 15,000 tests a day (for the coronavirus)  and so far the  U.S.  only gives 1,500 tests?”Howland said. “It’s a valid concern for all of us.”

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