Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz, state officials give update on public safety in wake of COVID-19 cases

by Aaron Falk

The Utah Jazz are taking steps to mitigate the potential spread of Coronavirus after two players preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

“This is an unprecedented time and the situation is fluid and fast-moving,” Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, said at a press conference at the Utah state capitol on Thursday. “The safety of our fans and team are of paramount importance. We have been in constant contact with the NBA, including Commissioner Adam Silver, and other league officials, as well as state medical experts in Utah and Oklahoma. They remain focused on the affected players and others who may have been exposed.”

Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Thunder was postponed after one player received a positive preliminary test for the virus. The player had not experienced symptoms until leaving Utah, Starks said. The rest of the team’s travel party, including members of the local media who had traveled to Oklahoma separately, were subsequently tested, resulting in one additional positive result. Those players remain under the watch of medical professionals in Oklahoma. Officials said they are “doing well and are expected to make a full recovery.” The rest of the team and travel party are returning home to Salt Lake City today.

“Proper public health protocols will be followed,” Starks said. “There are no other positive tests in that travel group.”

The NBA has postponed the remainder of the 2019-20 season indefinitely as it deals with the Coronavirus pandemic. In Utah, officials from around the state, including institutions of higher education and the Jazz, have joined in taking precautions to limit the virus’ spread.

FAQ: CONCERNED ABOUT COVID-19 AFTER ATTENDING A GAME?

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday asked all residents to avoid gatherings larger than 100 people. Residents over the age of 60 or those with autoimmune conditions should not gather in groups larger than 20 people.

The state’s universities have announced plans to move their classes online.

The Jazz, meanwhile, have asked employees to refrain from entering Vivint Smart Home Arena and the Zions Bank Basketball Campus for the time being. But Starks said, “Our employees have not been directed to self-quarantine unless they were in direct contact with the affected players or are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. We have the greatest fans in the world. We are confident this experience will help us to become stronger and even more united as an organization and as a community.”

“These steps will slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state,” Herbert said. “I know there is high anxiety. There is uncertainty about the future and what to do. … Being prepared is important. We need to take prudent measures to slow the spread.”

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said the state’s medical providers are working to increase the number of people they can test daily for the virus. At present, tests are in limited supply. Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness—which can include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath—should stay home, seeking medical advice via a telehealth service before trying to visit a doctor’s office or hospital.

If you are worried about whether you may have COVID-19, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.

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