By Tim Hunt
Coronavirus strikes home across America and in the valleyUploaded: Mar 12, 2020
The coronavirus just became real for Americans.
Previously, it had touched some areas, including the Bay Area and the Seattle area, but the impact wasn’t felt across the board.
Sports fans were jolted Wednesday when the NCAA announced that its annual cultural phenomenon, March Madness, will be played with crowds limited to family and friends. That covers the men’s and women’s championships as well as other NCAA championship events.
For Pac-12 men’s teams, playing in the league tournament in Las Vegas, that meant crowds for Wednesday’s opening games and then a virtually empty arena tonight through Saturday.
It’s even more dramatic in the NBA. The commissioner abruptly suspended the season Wednesday night after Salt Lake City’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The Jazz and the Mavericks literally were on the court warming up to play Wednesday night when the announcement was made that the game was postponed and fans should go home. The Golden State Warriors were prepared to play this evening without fans at Chase Center until the entire schedule was suspended.
The Pleasanton Downtown Association cancelled its St. Patrick’s Day brew crawl this Saturday and Shepherd’s Gate postponed its women’s tea at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church until June 27. It has been scheduled for April 24.
And, Cornerstone Fellowship, the Livermore mega-church announced this it would stream its weekend services and keep its five campuses closed for in-person worship. Executive Pastor Chris Stockhaus sent an email to attendees outlining the reasons for the decision and the opportunities it offers.
“I’d like to be clear on this, we are not making this decision out of fear or panic; we really do not feel either of those. Also, we’re not caving into media hysteria or pressure. Rather, we have a deep concern for the health and well-being of all of our people and most specifically, our elderly population and those with additional health challenges. We would rather make some short-term sacrifices if it has a chance of keeping people healthy so that we can quickly get to a place where the virus is adequately contained and get back to a new normal,” he wrote.
Stockhaus noted that officials in both Alameda and Contra Costa counties had asked the leaders not to gather in large worship services.
His recommendation is watch from home, invite others to watch the stream, gather in a small venue or grab some donuts and coffee and invite neighbors to church in your living room.
Calvary Church in the South Bay made a similar decision.
The situation came home to me personally in several ways. Our daughter was scheduled to fly to India Saturday to participate in a good friend’s wedding. India has closed its borders to all non-citizens so those plans were cancelled and we will be blessed to have her home instead.
Our church, GraceWay in Pleasanton’s elder board, spent quite a bit of time debating what we should to do to walk in faith not fear, but be wise as we do so. We are going ahead with worship (between 120-150 people), but being careful with contact.UPDATE: GraceWay will be doing a live stream the next two weeks with no in-person gathering,
And, as the publisher of ACES Golf, we’re taking a close look at what the PGA of America decides to do with its championship that’s scheduled for May 11-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. San Francisco—see the Warriors above—already has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people on publicly owned property and the city/county owns the golf course.
The PGA Tour, which is staging its Players Championship in Florida this week, opened today with fans. The tour commissioner announced that there will be no fans Friday through Sunday. The fan ban will continue through the first week of April. UPDATE: Late Thursday night, the tour announced that it was cancelling the Players and the next four events. August National announced that the Masters will be postponed from its April 9 start to a date later this year.