Just days after Gov. Jay Inslee said the spread of the coronavirus could have an impact on sporting events in the state, he is expected to announce new community strategies to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington State.
According to The Seattle Times, Inslee will announce Wednesday the restriction of gatherings of more than 250 people, including sporting events, to stop the spread of COVID-19. Washington has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States with 267 confirmed cases in the state and 29 total fatalities, as of Tuesday night.
Inslee has since confirmed the ban of sporting events of more than 250 people in his Wednesday morning press conference.
The health and well-being of Washingtonians during the COVID-19 outbreak remains our top priority.— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 11, 2020
Starting today, we will prohibit events of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties to slow the spread of this virus. pic.twitter.com/U1wOf0paIW
The ban will apply to Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, which are home to nearly 4 million people.
Here’s a look at some of the major sporting events that could be modified or canceled:
- The Seattle Mariners are set to begin their MLB season with a seven-game homestand on March 26. According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, the Mariners could host their regular-season games in Arizona if state officials in Washington decide to implement restrictions on public events.
- The Seattle Dragons have two more games at CenturyLink Field in the 2020 XFL season on March 22 and April 11. A statement from King County shared that a part-time stadium employee at a Dragons match on Feb. 22 tested positive for COVID-19, but shared the risk to employees was low.
- After playing two games at CenturyLink Field in early March, the Seattle Sounders will travel to Houston this week to face the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Their next match in Seattle is currently set for March 21. vs. FC Dallas. Seattle saw a lower number of fans than usual in green and blue at last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew. MLS has already announced it will temporarily ban reporters from postgame locker rooms.
- Spokane, Wash., is scheduled to host the first and second round of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament on March 19-21. On Tuesday, the NCAA said it will continue to “assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events.” Spokane is not located in the three counties this ban applies to, and is not yet impacted.