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NHL, MLB And MLS Suspend Seasons Due To Coronavirus

Columbus Blue Jackets' Oliver Bjorkstrand celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete
/
AP
Columbus Blue Jackets' Oliver Bjorkstrand celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

The National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball are the latest professional sports leagues to suspend its regular season over concerns about the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

The NHL announced Thursday that it would pause its season beginning with Thursday night's games. The Columbus Blue Jackets were scheduled to play at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures," said commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.

"However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus - and given that our leagues share so many faciliites and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point - it is no longer appropriate to try and play games at this time," he continued.

In a statement, the Blue Jackets said it supports the decision to suspend the NHL season, and will work to address issues for ticket holders and community partners.

The MLB will suspend its spring training games and delay the start of the 2020 season by at least two weeks.

For the MLS, match play will be suspended for 30 days, effective immediately.

Columbus Crew SC was scheduled to play its next game at home Saturday, March 14 against Real Salt Lake. FC Cincinnati's home opener against DC United was also scheduled for Saturday evening.

"Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season - based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees," said MLS commissioner Don Garber in a statement.

Officials made the announcements a day after the NBA announced one of its players tested positive for the disease.

On Friday, Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton signed a public order banning most "mass gatherings" larger than 100 people. Gov. Mike DeWine also declared that all K-12 schools would be suspended for three weeks.

The NCAA announced that its men’s and women’s March Madness basketball tournaments, as well as other winter and spring championships, would be canceled. Games were scheduled in both Dayton and Cleveland. The Big Ten Conference also scrapped the remainder of the men's basketball tournament.

The Crew played in Seattle last week despite a part-time employee at CenturyLink Field testing positive for COVID-19. It was the first major sporting event since Washington began the epicenter of the outbreak, and the game saw a smaller turnout than normal. Still, 33,080 fans turned out to the Crew's match agains the Seattle Sounders.

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands. 
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable. 
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634.