Los Angeles (AFP) – Major League Soccer matches in Seattle and San Jose are set to be played on Saturday as scheduled despite growing concern in those areas over the coronavirus outbreak.
But the league and clubs are monitoring the situation and staying in touch with health officials over the situation, which has seen 12 deaths, many in the Seattle area, and more than 200 confirmed cases in the United States.
“Seattle Sounders match versus Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 7 is scheduled to take place as planned at CenturyLink Field,” the Sounders said in a statement.
“As our organization has previously stated, nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans at all Sounders events. We are in continuous dialogue with regional health authorities and Major League Soccer, in addition to our network of medical experts. Because of this, we are proceeding with Saturday’s match.”
The Sounders are following updated guidelines announced Wednesday by Public Health – Seattle & King County and taking extra precautions at their home stadium, CenturyLink Field, with enhanced cleaning treatments to disinfect all areas of the stadium before and after every event as well as more hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue and continued staff education and training.
A CenturyLink Field stadium employee who worked at an American football game last month has tested positive for the coronavirus, with the Seattle Times reporting it was a concessions vendor who was found to have the disease.
“Our club is aware of King County’s recent announcement about a confirmed case of COVID-19 inside CenturyLink Field stemming from an event on February 22,” the Sounders said. “The affected part-time stadium employee did not work any Sounders events.
“The club is following the regional health authority’s determination that risk to stadium attendees from that employee was low and that no additional precautions are necessary heading into Saturday’s match.”
The Sounders advised “at-risk members of the community and any individual who is currently sick” not attend Saturday’s match.
“At this time, there has been no recommendation from Public Health – Seattle & King County to adjust scheduling for sporting events… as this situation remains fluid, the club is in real-time communication with key community stakeholders, and we will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.”
The Crew said in a statement that, “in collaboration with MLS, Crew intends to continue with its match preparation, including travel, in advance of Saturday’s road match in Seattle and will be monitoring the situation as it develops.
“The health and safety of the players, staff and supporters are of utmost importance.”
The San Jose Earthquakes, who host Minnesota on Saturday, reacted after the Santa Clara Public Health Department recommended all large events be called off.
“The Earthquakes organization is aware of the recent COVID-19 updates from the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department,” the team said in a statement.
“Public health and safety are our top priorities and we are coordinating with local agencies, the CDC, MLS officials and upcoming opponent Minnesota United to ensure the proper measures are taken to protect our community. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
MLS officials are in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health Agency of Canada and are monitoring the outbreak to take appropriate measures as the situation changes.
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