ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean revealed Tuesday that the vice president of human resources from the Omaha, Neb., hospital treating coronavirus patients was on the UGA campus.
“We had a visit about it last week, we actually talked about what we knew,” Crean said, asked how the Bulldogs were handling the coronavirus outbreak.
“He had some eye-opening things that he shared with us, as far as what they are dealing with.”
Georgia plays against Ole Miss in the opening game of the SEC basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
The virus’ fallout has become more far-reaching each day.
SEC schools Vanderbilt and Florida announced on Monday that they were suspending in-person classes and shifting classes online as a result of the coronavirus.
At the time of the publication of this writing, there had been 647 cases reported in the United States and 25 deaths, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There were 19 cases of the COVID-19 in the state of Florida and 18 in Georgia, two of the 36 jurisdictions affected.
The University of Georgia students are on spring break. UGA has yet to make any sort of announcement about its on-campus classes, at the time of this writing.
Crean is doing what he can to educate and protect his team.
He indicated the team learned the value of keeping their distance from potentially infected others from the Nebraska hospital representative.
“The proximity — I don’t want to sound like a doctor, so I’m not going to say too much — but in normal situations, the proximity is very, very narrow, right? This one is a lot wider, (and) there’s a lot more room,” Crean said. “What are you going to do? We just try to make sure that we’re putting everything in front of them that’s going to matter.
“Education, verbalizing it, hand wipes, the dispensers, more and more with fist bumps, and just being very conscious of getting it across without throwing panic or fear into them.”
UGA freshman Anthony Edwards announced on Twitter last week that he will not be signing autographs as a result of the virus.
I appreciate all my fans and everybody that is supporting me. Due to the Corona Virus, I will not be signing autographs or shaking hands for the time being.
— Anthony Edwards (@theantman05) March 6, 2020
Edwards elaborated on his Tweet on Tuesday.
“Fist bumps , no autographs, not too many people touching me or putting their arms around me, when they take pictures keep a distance,” Edwards said, explaining his approach with fans at the SEC tournament.
“I’m not trying to get sick, no disrespect to anyone. I’m just trying to keep myself healthy.”
The Southeastern Conference office announced later on Tuesday that it was closing off the locker rooms to the media at the league’s basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville this week.
The SEC’s action follows a joint decision announced by the NBA, NHL, MLS and Major League Baseball on Monday to close their locker rooms to essential event personnel.
Per the league release:
“After consulting with public health officials, member schools and colleagues throughout collegiate and professional sports, the SEC will also implement the following health measures, most of which were also applied during the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament last week:
• Use of hospital grade disinfectant to sanitize locker rooms before teams arrive and immediately 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; and
• Hand sanitizers at scorer’s table, in officials’ locker rooms and operations offices.
The SEC will provide additional hand sanitizers at all arena entrances and display health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control throughout the concourse.