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Coronavirus puts Rockies season, and much of the world, on hold

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News and links for Friday, March 13, 2020

Editor’s note: What follows is not your usual Rockpile, since today is not your usual day in Rockies news. Instead it is a brief recap of what has happened in the world of sports over the last 48 hours. After the star divide, we’ve included important and helpful links information about what to do and how to respond to the spreading coronavirus. If nothing else: wash your hands, practice social distancing, and take care of yourself and those closest to you.

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the expression (dubiously attributed to a Chinese proverb). In terms of life in the United States, I’m not sure many can remember times as interesting as this.

The worldwide spread of coronavirus and the resulting respiratory ailment, COVID-19, has sent life as we know it screeching to a halt. Early week restrictions on media access and fan attendance gave way on Wednesday night to the suspension of the NBA season for at least 30 days (The Day the Games Stopped | New Yorker). On Thursday morning, as conference basketball tournaments were preparing to tip off, most without fans present, one by one they were cancelled, sometimes pulling players off the court to do so. By 11am MT, all of the Power 5 Conference tournaments were cancelled as well as all other spring competitions. After individual teams began withdrawing from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the NCAA announced that all winter and spring championships would be canceled (What we know and don’t know after NCAA tournament cancellations | ESPN). March Madness was no more. College sports was cancelled.

By early afternoon, most of the major US sports announced similar suspensions. Around 11am MT, MLS soccer announced the league would suspend for 30 days. Within 30 minutes word came that the NHL was also suspending play immediately and promising to resume “when appropriate.” The PGA Tour was going to continue without fans (creating a surreal scene) but by the end of the day they had reversed course and canceled upcoming events. Even Broadway was cancelled, giving new meaning to the term “Cancel Culture.” At 2:30 pm MT, Disneyland announced that it was shutting its doors for just the fourth time in their history.

About the same time MLS and NHL announced suspension of the season, word came through that MLB was also suspending Spring Training, even as Grapefruit League games were going on in Florida and Cactus League games were announcing rainouts. Joel Sherman was struggling to keep up. Finally, at 1:10 pm MT, the death blow was struck: MLB suspended their season for a minimum of two weeks (but state government officials seem intent on keeping things shut down for even longer).

Now what? (What we know as MLB delays start of season because of coronavirus | ESPN)

This whole thing is much bigger than sports. But sports seem to be a bit of a canary in the coalmine. Even as public health officials across the globe have been warning people for months to wash your hands, avoid sick people, and take other reasonable precautions in going about the day, it seemed surreal to think that the coronavirus could cause any real social change to our day-to-day lives. When, out of concern for public health, something that is so everyday it’s almost background noise goes away, we know things are serious. For me, this produced a low-level anxiety for most of Wednesday into Thursday. I know the risks of serious illness are low for me and my family, but the idea of a shutdown a la Wuhan or Italy is unsettling, and the thought of an overtaxed healthcare system is scary for someone expecting the birth of a child within the next month. I wouldn’t be surprised if other people felt similarly.

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If you haven’t already noticed, this isn’t your normal Rockpile because this isn’t your normal day in sports. So instead of linking to all the latest news about battles for rotation spots and the rebound potential for various relievers, we’re going to focus, at least for today, on what we can do as a community going forward.

First: listen to the experts. We don’t need to get our information from sports personalities, and far too much coverage has resulted in partisan maneuvering. The first and most basic resource is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There you will find the most relevant information on how to prevent illness (wash your hands!), what to do when you are sick (call your doctor first) and updates on how the virus is spreading. Most news outlets are also taking their coronavirus coverage from behind the paywall (feel free to drop them a few bucks; local journalism is important, even if you disagree with it).

Second, think like a community. Those who are (or at least were) denying or downplaying the concern as “no big deal” don’t have much to stand on, considering how seriously the country is taking this now; they react this way because trust in institutions is at such a low. But the only way through such a massive public health emergency is community cohesiveness. The irony is that thinking communally means, in this case, social distancing. We do this because we need to recognize this is the best course of action we can take to slow or stop the spread of disease (Yes, You Actually Can Do Something About The Coronavirus | Buzzfeed News). If you’re interested in the more technical aspects of why this is important, this is a long but very informative read; if it spikes your anxiety, scroll down a bit for help with that. (Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now | Medium) And know the symptoms.

Source: Business Insider

If you haven’t seen the “flatten the curve” stuff yet, it’s important to keep in mind (How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart | Vox). If you are under 65 or don’t have underlying health issues, there’s an 80% chance that even if you do contract COVID-19, you won’t experience anything worse than a troublesome cold or flu. BUT! If we think only individually, we put the rest of our communities at risk because we will spread the disease. Spreading the disease not only puts those at-risk populations at greater risk, it threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system. Taking these measures can not only slow the spread of the disease, but may even be effective at lowering/limiting the mortality rate (link to GIF from Medium article linked above).

One thing that the low-risk for you as an individual should do is let you know how important it is to not panic. Necessary precautions, yes, since daily life is being disrupted. But it’s important to remain as level-headed as possible, so don’t over-stockpile. Besides, too much anxiety taxes your immune system, making it harder for you to fight off infection (I write this more for me than anyone else reading). So take care of yourself: get some sleep. Drink lots of water. Do things to help yourself manage stress and anxiety.

If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety anyway, or you’re feeling a spike for the first time in your life like I am, I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch this video on four easy steps to manage it. It has been helping me even as I write this post.

My heart's been heavy the past couple of days, so I channeled that into something I need. Maybe you need it too.

Posted by Rory Tyer on Thursday, March 12, 2020

Next, as Mr. Rogers told us, look for the helpers, and consider ways to help. Kevin Love pledged $100,000 to help pay expenses for Cleveland stadium workers who were out of a job (temporarily). Disneyland pledged to pay workers during the shutdown. Small businesses will be hit especially hard right now. If you want to help keep them afloat but are uncomfortable being out, consider buying a gift card from your favorite shops and restaurants and return to treat your favorite person to a meal once everything slows down. If you’re concerned about minor league players, there’s a way to help them, too. (Baseball shutting down is screwing over minor leaguers—here is how you can help | Twinkie Town)

There are ways you can help your neighbors. Use NextDoor or a letter to introduce yourself and offer help (food, picking up medicine or other supplies and dropping it on the porch) or other basic assistance. Maybe ask your mailperson to keep an eye out for neighbors, and especially elderly ones, who might need help. Or you could TP your neighbors, which would be helpful and a massive flex.

Also: laugh. This is a dire situation, but at least the memes are hot.

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Since there’s little in the way of sports to discuss, please take this opportunity to share ideas of how you’re managing this outbreak. What are you doing now that you’re stuck at home out of the office? What are you doing to manage stress? What are the dank memes you’ve been enjoying? What games are you going back and watching on MLB.tv?