Coronavirus daily blog, March 10: U of M athletics releases statement

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 20, 2020 11:36 AM CT | Published: March 10, 2020 6:31 AM CT

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University of Memphis athletics releases statement regarding COVID-19

11:13 PM CT, March 10

The University of Memphis has released a statement regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus on Tuesday, a few days ahead of the men’s basketball team traveling to Dallas for the American Athletic Conference Tournament and a week before the football team opens spring practice.

The university levied an international travel ban for students, faculty and staff on school-sponsored events earlier this week. Spring break runs from March 9-15 while the Memphis football team kicks practice off March 17. The Memphis Athletic Department is ensuring the health of its student-athletes. 

“As we assess potential impacts related to COVID-19, Memphis Athletics will continue to follow state and federal guidance along with the directives from the American Athletic Conference regarding decision-making specific to campus athletic operations and impacts,” Athletic Director Laird Veatch said in a statement. “This also includes U of M guidelines such as the recent discontinuation of international travel through the end of the current semester. Memphis Athletics has mobilized an administrative team to coordinate our departmental efforts and ensure alignment with University leadership, our conference and state and federal recommendations. As plans progress and the situation evolves, we will communicate subsequent impacts and decisions as appropriate.”

Football and basketball aren’t the only sports in-season at the university. Both baseball and softball recently started their seasons while track and field runs through the summer. Both tennis and golf are approaching the end of their schedules. The women’s soccer team has events scheduled throughout the spring.

Football coach Ryan Silverfield plans to travel to Nashville for a scrimmage April 4 at Father Ryan High School. The yearly Friday Night Stripes game is slated for April 17 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Following the move of several other universities around the country, Vanderbilt University recently made the decision to cancel in-person classes until March 30. The U of M released a statement to students and faculty stating “face-to-face instruction may be interrupted” if necessary due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The Ivy League went as far as canceling their conference tournament Tuesday. Other professional leagues have been restricting attendance or not allowing spectators all together. 

As of Tuesday, there are seven known cases of the virus in the state of Tennessee, only one of which is in Shelby County. President M. David Rudd released a statement saying Memphis has coordinated with city and county officials since Mayor Jim Strickland announced the case.


For a day, stocks rebound

3:09 PM CT, March 10

Stocks rebounded on Wall Street Tuesday after a brutal sell-off Monday, as all the major indices finished nearly 5% higher for the session.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1,167 points to close just above 25,000 at 25,018. The S&P 500 rose 4.94% to close at 2,882.

First Horizon National Corp. and FedEx Corp., which have been among the hardest hit Memphis companies since the coronavirus outbreak, both advanced more than 4% on Tuesday. FedEx closed at $120.66 and First Horizon ended at $10.56, gaining 4.6% on the day.


Tigers aware of coronavirus; concerned about future

2:52 PM CT, March 10

Penny Hardaway is no doctor, but the Memphis coach did address the growing coronavirus threat Tuesday during his media availability. 

Earlier in the day, the Ivy League canceled its conference tournament in an effort to protect its players. The American Athletic Conference Tournament is set to tip on Thursday night, and so far no major changes have been announced. 

“Obviously, the country and the world is concerned about it,” Hardaway said. “Man, if this is getting to a point where we are having to not have games and not have fans in the stands, then there’s something going on. There is some concern. It’s not a major concern, for us. But, there is a small concern if everybody is starting to do this around the country.”

Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said during a teleconference Monday that the league intends to move forward with the tournament in Fort Worth, while taking precautions to curb potential spreading the virus.

Those plans include more hand sanitizers, monitoring players, coaches, staff and traveling parties along with eliminating postgame handshakes.

“We’re hoping we don’t have any disruptions, but if we do, we’ll have alternate plans,” Aresco said.

While he really hasn’t considered it, Hardaway hopes there are no plans to cancel games or play without fans.

Tiger forward Precious Achiuwa, who earlier in the day was named an All-AAC first team selection, said guard Lester Quinones showed him a video of someone wrapped from head to toe in plastic bag as protection.

“I just think everybody just has to stay safe, you know,” Achiuwa said. “I try not to think about it, to be honest, because I don’t want to freak myself out. I just go about my day regular. I don’t really do anything different that would make me be scared or anything.”


Tennessee Department of Health confirms 7th case

2:24 PM CT, March 10

The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed a seventh case of COVID-19. The department, via Twitter, said the person was in the Sullivan County metropolitan area. Sullivan County is in East Tennessee.




St. Jude putting visitors at bay for now

2:22 PM CT, March 10

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which previously announced it would end campus tours for 60 days as a precaution, has updated its visitors’ policy given the virus outbreak.

All campus tours are canceled until further notice.

Only invited visitors and essential non-employees may come on campus until further notice.

Anyone who is sick, has a fever, coughing, a sore throat, runny nose or difficulty breathing is asked to not come on campus.

Others who will not be admitted on campus include:

Any person, family member or guest in their home who has traveled in the last 14 days from China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea or Spain, or Seattle, New York metropolitan area and Northern California.

Anyone who has had contact with anyone who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

All patient and family events in the hospital and housing facilities involving non-St. Jude or non-ALSAC employees are canceled until further notice. 

All on-campus scientific and medical conferences, events, symposia and workshops involving non-St. Jude employees are canceled through March. Stay tuned for a decision on April events.

For the latest on fundraising and awareness events, contact your ALSAC representative. 

St. Jude will continue to monitor this situation and will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


CBU faculty member, student under self-quarantine

2:13 PM CT, March 10

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A Christian Brothers University faculty member and a student are each under self-quarantine, the college announced Tuesday afternoon.

Neither has tested positive for the coronavirus, nor do they have symptoms, the college said. 

The faculty member returned from Italy and will self-quarantine before coming back to campus. CBU said the person will teach online during the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended quarantine period.

The student is quarantined in an off-campus residence after a “brief interaction” with the Shelby County patient who tested positive for the coronavirus on March 8.


Orpheum Theatre Group takes precautions

1:51 PM CT, March 10

The Orphum Theatre Group has increased the frequency with which surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, assistive-listening devices and concessions equipment are cleaned. Additional and-sanitizer dispensers have also been installed throughout the theater.

The website also urges visitors to “practice good respiratory etiquette (e.g., cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing)” and refrain from attending performances if exhibiting symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath. Those who have questions may email or call 901-525-7800.


Grizzlies taking new approach

1:20 PM CT, March 10

Things were different at Memphis Grizzlies’ shootaround on Tuesday morning. 

Typically, the media gathers around head coach Taylor Jenkins and selected players in tight scrums just off the court at FedExForum.

This one was a more formal affair, with Jenkins and players sitting at a table in a makeshift media room, reporters lobbing questions from six or more feet away. It was a preview of coming attractions.

After Tuesday night’s game, team locker rooms will be closed to media, a departure from typical protocol and the result of an NBA-wide directive

These responses to the growing spread of the coronavirus don’t directly impact fans, but seem likely to be precursors to other, perhaps more drastic, changes to come for franchises across the NBA.


Le Bonheur updates visitor policy

12:07 PM CT, March 10

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has updated its visitor policy “out of an abundance of caution for patients, families and staff.”

Visitors will be screened when entering the hospital. Anyone who has had contact with a suspected coronavirus patient or has traveled within the last 14 days to restricted countries will not be allowed to visit. Additionally, those who have fever of 100.4 degrees or greater, feel feverish or have experienced chills in the previous 48 hours will also be asked to not enter.

Screening checkpoints are located at the main entrance, on the first floor out patient center entrance, the emergency department entrance and the first-floor research tower entrance.

Admitted and same-day surgery patients may only have two designated caregivers visit.


Your noon national novel coronavirus update

12:05 PM CT, March 10

It’s about noon in Memphis. Below is what some national outlets are reporting about the coronavirus.

The Washington Post: The novel coronavirus is sparing young children, but hitting elderly people particularly hard. According to virologists, understanding why children are faring better could lead to answers on why it sickens and kills others.

The New York Times: New York is setting up a “containment area” in New Rochelle, north of New York City, and deploying the National Guard to clean buildings and deliver food to those quarantined.

The Wall Street Journal: Italy will place a moratorium on repaying debt — including mortgages, small loans and revolving credit lines — to help families and businesses cope with coronavirus impacts.


Tennessee Department of Health confirms 2 more cases

11:33 AM CT, March 10

The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed two additional cases of COVID-19 in Middle Tennessee, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed cases to six. 


Lakeland, Arlington schools amend policies on exempting students from exams

11:24 AM CT, March 10

School districts in Arlington and Lakeland have amended their policies on exempting students from end-of-semester exams in response to coronavirus.

The Lakeland School System updated its grading system policy Monday night, March 9, to say students with a grade average of 90 or higher for the two terms of the second semester will be exempt regardless of attendance. Since Lakeland currently has only one elementary and one middle school, the change will apply only to eighth-graders in three high school-level classes -- Algebra I, Physical Science and Spanish I -- at Lakeland Middle Preparatory School.

Arlington Community Schools, where Lakeland high school-age students attend until a new Lakeland high school is built, also changed its rules Monday. The district says students will be exempt from exams as long as absences were excused.

Germantown Municipal School District has taken a similar approach.

No students can be exempted from state-mandated end-of-year exams.


Stax Museum adds cleanings

11:06 AM CT, March 10

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music said it is working with the American Alliance for Museums, the Shelby County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control to make sure it is following best practices in light of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Memphis.

The museum has added cleanings and has removed items, like headphones connected to listening stations. It has also added hand sanitizer and hand-washing reminders and instruction signs.

Museum staff is also now assisting the custodial staff with cleanings throughout the day.

The museum currently has no plans to close, modify hours or cancel events.


Rhodes College will not require sick leave for faculty, staff

9:36 AM CT, March 10

Rhodes College, which has canceled some events and is reviewing its visitor policies and plans for remote learning and work, will not require faculty and staff to use vacation or sick leave if their doctors recommend self-quarantine. The college will require documentation from doctors’ offices for the leave to be approved.

College leaders are also assessing business continuity planning, student recruitment, athletic competition and contingency plans due to financial market instability.


New drink, Quarantini, at Zinnies

10:03 AM CT, March 10

According to Zinnies, the drink is a a negroni spritzer with a lemon twist.


Starbucks vs. virus: 2.0

9:45 AM CT, March 10

“I’ll take a tall Pike’s Place with room, please,” I said Tuesday morning at the Starbucks on Union at Watkins.

 (“With room” being the shorthand for “please leave room in the cup so I can add half-and-half.”)

Instead of the usual positive reply, the employee at the register said something entirely different.

“Sure, but do you want me to put the cream in for you or do you want the cream in a cup?” he said.

He went on to explain that because of the coronavirus, Starbucks has temporarily removed the silver, steel vacuum-insulated jug of half-and-half from the customer do-it-yourself table.

It’s at least the second response from Starbucks to contain the virus’s spread. A few days ago, signs were posted at the coffeeshops stating Starbucks will not handle reusable coffee cups during the outbreak.

“Handle” is likely the key word regarding removal of the insulated jugs of half-and-half. While the cream would appear to remain safe, customers would be touching the same handle time and time again.


Bosses moves to take-out only

9:30 AM CT, March 10

Bosses, a restaurant serving chicken wings, chicken tenders and fries, has moved to take-out orders only, until further notice.

The notice was posted Monday, March 9, on the restaurant’s website and social media.

In a Facebook post, owner John Yacoubian said, in part, “Without adequate testing mechanism, or a national policy dictating standards for restaurants, business owners are left to decide what is the best course of action. I’m not a risk-taker when it comes to people’s health.”

Yacoubian’s post encouraged customers to call in their orders.

The restaurant, which has been open for 10 years, is located at 5030 Poplar Ave.

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FedEx reacted to coronavirus in mid-January

8:50 AM CT, March 10

FedEx responded to the coronavirus by activating its 15-year-old pandemic plan on Jan. 13, keeping business going and protecting 400,000 employees in 220 countries, according to David Lusk, director of the FedEx Global Security Operations Center.

With an eye toward the spread of COVID-19 in China, the Memphis-based shipping company shifted from planning to response about five weeks ago following strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, mainly “building muscle memory” in employees to wash hands for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizers in the workplace.

Lusk, a member of the governor’s Coronavirus Task Force, made his comments via conference during the group’s first meeting Monday, March 9, in Nashville.

“We’ve also coached and educated on continuous practices into our team members’ homes and, thus, into the community to ensure a whole community approach … in protecting the herd,” Lusk said. “We are continuing to work on those efforts and are responding, not only within the states, but across the country.”

On Sunday, for instance, FedEx moved a federal medical station from Baltimore to Oakland to prepare for a cruise ship in that area.

“So we stand by to work collaboratively in the public-private partnership initiative and do whatever we can,” Lusk said.



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