By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
State high school basketball championships in Casper were canceled on Thursday as public health officials expressed concern over the possible spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Dr. Mark Dowell, Natrona County’s health officer, ordered closure of the Class 4A and 3A boys and girls basketball championship games being played by 32 teams at the Casper Events Center and Casper College.
“Our Natrona County health officer decided to cancel the events to help reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus,” said Hailey Bloom, the department’s public information officer. “We don’t currently have any (cases) in Natrona County, but he recognizes that the tournament brings all sorts of people to Natrona County from all across the state.”
Health officials had originally proposed closing the tournament to specators and allowing the teams to play, but decided instead to close the entire tournament, Bloom said.
“Things are evolving here minute-by-minute,” she said.
Bloom said Natrona County Health Department officials followed the lead organizations are taking nationally, such as the decision by NCAA officials to bar spectators from the NCAA basketball tournaments and the decisions of the NBA and NHL to suspend play.
“We’re just really trying to slow this down as much as we can,” she said.
Also canceled were the state speech championships, also being held in Casper.