The COVID-19 Pandemic (UPDATED): President Trump Announces Temporary Travel Ban; NBA/NHL Suspend Seasons; and more

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is officially a pandemic. Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized it as such, stating: “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

COVID-19 stands, as WHO noted, as the first global pandemic caused by a coronavirus. There are now over 124,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The respiratory illness has caused the deaths of 4,607 people across the globe and has a foothold on every continent except Antarctica.

U.S. Restricts Travel from Most of Europe

President Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday night and announced that U.S. will prohibit many foreign travelers from Europe over the next 30 days. The travel ban, which goes into effect Friday night at midnight, applies only to foreign nationals who have visited 26 countries in Europe (not including the UK and Ireland), and excludes U.S. citizens, green card holders or the families of U.S. citizens, according to the Department of Homeland Security. However, this temporary restriction does not apply to European trade or goods. To date, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has climbed to over 1,000 and resulted in at least 33 deaths nationwide.

NBA Suspends Season After Player Tests Positive

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the 2019-2020 season indefinitely after one of its players contracted the virus. The player, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The decision to suspend play for the time being follows an initial step that the league proposed to play games in empty areas. Per an ESPN report, teams who played the Jazz within the last 10 days have been directed to self-quarantine, and these teams include the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA said that they will use this hiatus to determine next steps moving forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Both the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have followed suit with the NBA.

The NHL will pause the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman just announced. “In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight’s games,” Commissioner Bettman said.

Also today, MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training and games and delay the start of the 2020 regular season, according to baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans,” the league said in a statement. “MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

College basketball is also erring on the side of caution. Per CBS Sports, multiple NCAA conferences, including the AAC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC, have cancelled their March Madness conference tournaments. Moreover, Duke University announced that is suspending all athletic activities.

And more news from the NBA: Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has become the second player in the league diagnosed with COVID-19. Mitchell addressed the situation via his Instagram account: “We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them.”

Hollywood Stars Not Immune

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks revealed yesterday that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have both tested positive for COVID-19 while on-set in Australia. “To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus and were found to be positive,” Hanks tweeted. The beloved actor stated that he and his spouse had been experiencing fatigue, body aches, with low-grade fevers. Mr. Hanks assured the public that couple will follow all necessary protocols to ensure the safety of themselves and others. “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.”

How to Protect Yourself

The CDC has outlined a number of steps individuals can practice to mitigate the virus’ spread. A few include:

Wash Your Hands Often

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after being in public, or after blowing your nose, cough or sneezing.
  • If soap isn’t readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 Avoid Close Contact

  • If you live in an area hit by community spread, put a safe distance between yourself and others. This is especially important for people at a higher risk of getting very sick, such as the elderly and those with underling medical conditions.

Clean and Disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.