State basketball tournaments continue as planned during COVID-19 outbreak

SPOKANE, Wash. — In a place where many young athletes across the region come together, the State B Basketball championships continued as planned, even during the spread of COVID-19.

Games have been going on for the last two days at the Spokane Arena.

It’s a sport where contact happens pretty often.

The young athletes at the Spokane Arena, just like everyone else, are aware of the virus going around,

“We’re making sure the teams are aware of the safety precautions, recommended that they don’t share water bottles, that they wash their hands, wipe down surfaces and anything like that to make sure everybody’s safe,” said Andy Barnes, the executive director for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

WIAA has been in regular contact with the Washington State Department of Health. That is why the tournaments are still going on, rather than being canceled.

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Coaches have been talking to their students about hygiene, too.

“I think they’ve also taken precautions, try and do fist bumps, wash your hands after the game maybe even during half time. They take care of the girls,” said John Stephens, whose daughter played in a tournament.

Although there are constant reminders about the disease spreading, the Spokane Arena was a place for the young athletes to forget about it for a little while and enjoy the game.

“We thought that it was important to have the state tournament. Obviously we want to recognize our student athletes in schools in this culminating event,” Barnes said.

Those in the stands wanted to be there for their loved ones, too.

“My husband is a retired teacher from Curlew and the girls made it this year and we’re here to watch them play,” said attendee Cynthia Nelson.

She said she’s a little worried about the coronavirus.

“It’s a little concerning, but I think it’s just like everything else, just like the flu, you just have to be careful, wash your hands, don’t be anywhere where you’re going to be coughed on or sneezed at and take it a little bit conservative,” Nelson said.

Staff were seen posting signs about COVID-19, reminding guests about hand hygiene and cleanliness. Hand sanitzer was also in sight for anyone needing it.

“Recommending people don’t sit as close together as possible, spread out as much as they can. In general, just practicing good hygiene and general things like that,” Barnes said.

A few people who attended the tournaments were impressed with the arena’s cleanliness.

“People were concerned at the beginning of this. I think this is really clean at the arena and there are signs everywhere, reminding people to wash your hands and it’s just, they’ve done a good job,” said Kyle Dodge, the athletic director for Liberty High School in Spangle.

WIAA did receive the recommendation from the health department to continue all their games as planned.

If anything were to change, the association would let schools and communities know directly.

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