The Los Angeles Lakers game with the Houston Rockets scheduled for Thursday evening at Staples Center was postponed until further notice after the National Basketball Association announced it was suspending the season because a player had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Wednesday night moves by the team and the league came just hours before Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California public health officials determined that gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March, likely affecting the NCAA basketball tournament’s West Regional scheduled for March 26 and 28 at Staples Center and the season opening series at Dodger Stadium between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants scheduled to begin March 26.
“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” Newsom said in a statement. “That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects — saving dozens of lives and preserving critical healthcare resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk — seniors and those with underlying health conditions — are depending on all of us to make the right choice.”
Smaller events must be limited to no more than 250 people and can only take place if organizers can implement social distancing of six feet per person and gatherings of people who are at higher risk for severe illness from coronavirus should be limited to no more than 10 people and also follow the social-distancing guidelines, the statement said.
According to the state’s updated policy, a gathering is now defined as “any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria or any other indoor or outdoor space” and applies to “all nonessential professional, social and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.”
Essential gatherings should only take place if the activity could not be postponed or carried out without people gathering, the statement said.
“These changes will cause real stress — especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them,” Newsom said. “The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis.”
Meantime, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks announced Wednesday that he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have tested positive for coronavirus in Australia.
“We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches,” the 63-year-old Hanks wrote on his social media accounts. “Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive.
“Well, now. What to do next? The medical officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?
“We’ll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves!”
According to Deadline, Hanks and Wilson are in Australia for production of director Baz Luhrmann’s untitled film about Elvis Presley.
Hanks won Oscars for his leading roles in “Forrest Gump” and “Philadelphia.” He has been married to Wilson, also 63, since 1988, and the couple have two children. She is best known for her roles in films such as “Jingle All the Way,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Runaway Bride.”
Earlier Wednesday, Los Angeles County recorded its first confirmed death from coronavirus — a woman in her 60s who lives elsewhere but was visiting friends in the area — while the county health director also announced six more confirmed cases of the illness.
Long Beach health officials, meanwhile, confirmed a fourth case in that city, while Pasadena announced its first case.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the L.A county Department of Public Health, said the woman who died had underlying health conditions and had traveled extensively over the past month, including a “long layover in South Korea.”
No other specifics about the woman were released, including the hospital where she died.
Of the six additional confirmed cases, three were “household contacts” of a previously announced patient, one person recently traveled to France and came home ill, one person traveled to a religious conference in another state and one person has no known travel or exposure history — making that patient the county’s second instance of “community transmission” of the illness.
The new cases bring to 24 the number of cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, that have been reported and are being overseen by the county Department of Public Health.
Long Beach, which operates its own health department, announced its fourth case, although the city was still awaiting confirmation of test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient was described only as a man who traveled “to an international area of community transmission.”
Pasadena, which also has its own health department, announced its first case, described only as a person who had known contact with a coronavirus patient outside Pasadena. City officials said the person has been in quarantine since the exposure occurred, and is “recovering.”
Los Angeles County public health teams began visiting nursing home and long-term care facilities Wednesday to ensure all steps are being taken to protect against the coronavirus.
Ferrer said Tuesday the teams over the past week had been visiting interim housing facilities, including homeless shelters, to check their ability to respond to a possible case of the illness.
Those teams will now focus on the nursing and long-term care facilities, an effort she said is “really both making sure that they’re able to adequately enforce all of their infectious disease control protocols, but just as importantly, we’d like to help them move to changing some common practices that may happen at their residences.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency declaration, following in the footsteps of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties and the state of California.
The declaration authorizes Superintendent Austin Beutner “to take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education, and the health and safety of the students and staff at the district sites,” including the relocation of students and staff, providing “alternative educational program options” and providing employees with paid leaves of absence due to quarantine.
The declaration gives Beutner the authority to take actions quickly — such as closing schools — without waiting for board approval.
As of Tuesday night, there still have been no reports of any coronavirus cases affecting any of the district’s schools.