“We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus.” — President Donald Trump
And, on Wednesday, a number of organizations started to fight back, both nationally and locally.
Only hours after the World Health Organization officially classified the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, Mr. Trump banned inbound travel from Europe for a 30-day period.
Those traveling in from the United Kingdom will be allowed.
The ban only applies to foreign nationals traveling from Europe, not affecting U.S. citizens, permanent residents or immediate family members of U.S. citizens.
Mr. Trump indicated that the European Union did not use haste and caution in applying travel bans with China, the origination point for the virus.
While the travel ban sent shockwaves all over the U.S., it wasn’t the biggest surprise of the day. That belonged to the National Basketball Association, which decided to suspend its season due to a player on the Utah Jazz testing positive for coronavirus.
No announcement was made on when the season might continue.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The abundance of caution also reached the college sports world, with the NCAA announcing that its upcoming NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would operate without fans — likely costing the association and host venues millions.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”
UCSB will begin play in the Big West men’s and women’s tournament starting today, with the conference already making it fan-less.
Both the Westmont men’s and women’s basketball teams will head off to their respective national tournaments, with the NAIA announcing Wednesday that both tournaments would be fan-less.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, there have been 1,312 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 38 total deaths. Four of those deaths have been in California, including one in Los Angeles County on Wednesday. The victim was a woman in her 60s with underlying health issues.
Late Wednesday, Ventura County announced that it had its second travel-related positive test, with the traveler returning from a trip to Italy. Ventura County says that 77 people have been tested thus far, with 25 travelers under in-home quarantine.
The coronavirus inherited its first set of Hollywood stars as well, with Tom Hanks announcing that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, contracted the virus and were in isolation in Australia.
Locally, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced that it had established a community portal where residents can get a plethora of information — including tips on how to prevent the spread of the virus — and the latest updates from officials.
“Keeping the public safe and healthy is our most important responsibility. We are using all avenues of communication to ensure that our community has the most up to date information and can make informed decisions about their health and the health of those around them,” Dr. Henning Ansorg said in a news release. “Each of us must stay informed and understand what COVID-19 is, how together we can slow the spread of this disease, and how we can continue to act in the best interest of each other — all of this takes having the right information.”
The website can be found at publichealthSBC.org.
According to the news release, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Santa Barbara County, putting mass cancellations on hold, at least for the moment.
Santa Barbara City College continued to look into its options in reference to taking classes to online only, something that UCSB did on Tuesday afternoon. The school indicated that a decision was imminent.
According to sources, Westmont College is doing their due diligence on what they will do when students return from Spring Recess on Monday.
There were a handful of postponements in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday, highlighted by Earth Day in Santa Barbara moving to July.
County health officials indicated on Tuesday in speaking to the Santa Barbara City Council that a positive case in the county is inevitable, which will undoubtedly affect local businesses, something that Mr. Trump addressed on Wednesday.
He indicated that he is working with the Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans for businesses hurt by the pandemic, while asking Congress for $50 billion in additional funding to help that cause.
He has also asked for payroll tax relief, although that hasn’t picked up traction with either party in Washington, D.C.