CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As the high school girls basketball tournament gets underway Wednesday in Charleston, West Virginia remains one of the few states without a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
That means the outbreak, which on Wednesday was labeled as a pandemic, has yet to have an impact on sporting events here in the Mountain State. But that’s not the case everywhere.
“Well I think luck plays a part, but I also think our environment plays a part. And West Virginia has not been in the forefront. And everybody taking good precautions, hopefully we can stay in the background,” said Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the WVSSAC, in an exclusive interview with 12 News.
The state of Connecticut announced Tuesday it was cancelling its postseason high school basketball tournaments. Ohio will play its in an empty arena.
Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and NCAA have already limited locker room media access, with the NCAA announcing Wednesday that all tournament games will be played without fans in attendance.
“Currently right now things are a go, but we do ask people to take their own precautions, make sure they they’re using good hygiene – washing your hands, don’t put your hands to your face. And by all means, if a player, a coach, a fan, doesn’t feel good you shouldn’t come to the game,” Dolan said.
Dolan also says he and the WVSSAC are working with the Department of Health & Human Resources and the Department of Education to monitor the virus over the course of the next two weeks.
As of now there are no plans to have the girls or boys basketball tournaments played in front of limited or no fans at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
But that’s still with no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the state.
If a case is confirmed, the WVSSAC is prepared to explore options, but at this time they haven’t had to do so.
That means that, as of now, all games at the West Virginia boys and girls high school basketball state tournaments will be better attended than this year’s Final Four, which was originally scheduled to be held in Atlanta.
Asked what would happen if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in the state between now and the end of the boys state tournament next weekend, Dolan said:
“We’ll take the lead from the DHHR and the Department of Education. But I think until there is valid information that says that something is happening, I would think that we would still go on.”
The girls basketball state tournament is scheduled to be held in Charleston from Wednesday through Saturday of this week, with the boys tournament being held on the same days next week.