INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The next few weeks are a hotbed of sports activity in Indy. The NFL combine underway as we speak, and the regional round of the NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament is coming next month. Both will bring an influx of people to the Circle City with their germs included. It’s prompting talks about the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ve talked to the NBA this week,” explains Rick Fuson, President of Pacers Sports Entertainment, “They have a direct pipeline to the CDC. Certainly, we talk to our state health people.”
Bankers Life Fieldhouse will host the NCAA regional round. Visit Indy is having meetings this week to put an emergency plan in place should the illness reach the state. Currently, there are no cases in Indiana, but 26 people are being watched by the state health department. So far, none of them have shown signs of the coronavirus. The NCAA tournament will have fans flying in from other areas, but Fuson expects Bankers Life to be ready.
“We’ve appointed an internal group to look at that, and be prepared for as much as we can, hoping it doesn’t happen,” Fuson says.
The state health department is establishing an expert hotline for people to call should they believe they have symptoms. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says only 12 states have test kits for the virus, adding that the CDC had issues with test kit reagents.
“I got some good news, we may have those test kits in Indiana by the end of this week,” tells Dr. Box.
The state health department believes the threat level is low right now, but admits that could change at any time. They encourage people to stay vigilant and prepare for the coronavirus as you would the flu. While the flu may be more widespread, it’s not nearly as deadly.
“The mortality rate associated with [the coronavirus], the best we can tell, is somewhere around 1% to 2%,” explains Dr. Box, “Statistics that I’ve read about the flu have been .1% to .4%.”