Boston’s pro sports teams, like many Americans wary about whether to prepare for the worst, are closely monitoring the global coronavirus crisis amid fears the epidemic could threaten the health of their players and fans.
The White House cautioned Friday that schools could be shuttered and public transportation could be impacted as the virus spreads in the United States. Just days earlier, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an outbreak of the virus could lead to the cancellation of major sporting events.
“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe,’’ the CDC’s Nancy Messonnier said. “But these are things that people need to start thinking about now.’’
Switzerland Friday banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people, as concerns rose among American sports leagues about the possible health risks and financial damage.
The Bruins, Celtics, and Revolution all have been hosting games and traveling the country, while the Red Sox have been playing spring training contests across Florida to prepare for their season opener March 26 in Toronto.
The Sox made headlines this week when they asked minor league pitcher Chih-Jung Liu to delay reporting to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers for more than a week out of “an overabundance of caution’’ after he arrived from Taiwan. More than 30 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Taiwan, as well as at least one death.
Liu had no symptoms of the virus when he arrived. Nor did Sox infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, who also is from Taiwan and waited a day before he reported to camp.
Sox president Sam Kennedy said the club and Major League Baseball are actively monitoring the spread of the coronavirus while maintaining contact with the CDC and US Department of Health and Human Services.
“We have been providing information to all staff members, including players and food service providers, that mirrors the CDC recommendations,’’ Kennedy said.
He said plans are underway for the team’s return to Boston for the home opener April 2 against the Chicago White Sox.
The Globe reported Thursday that 34 people in Boston are being monitored for the coronavirus, though there has been only one confirmed case in the city, a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Statewide, more than 600 people who recently traveled to China — where 2,788 people have died and 78,824 have contracted the coronavirus — are being monitored by health officials.
“At Fenway Park,’’ Kennedy said, “we are currently installing more public hand sanitizer dispensers near all the main gates throughout the ballpark and will be encouraging fans to frequently wash hands and use the dispensers when the regular season begins.”
The Celtics returned home Thursday from a 7,000-mile trip through Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Portland, and New Orleans. As they prepared to face the Houston Rockets Saturday at TD Garden, a team official referred questions about the virus to league officials.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount. We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus, and continue to monitor the situation closely.’’
For the Bruins, an early challenge caused by the coronavirus has been maintaining an adequate supply of hockey sticks, the Globe has reported. Most sticks are made in China, where many factories have been shut down to try to curb the spread of the virus.
The Bruins referred coronavirus questions to the league. At NHL headquarters, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “We’re closely monitoring the situation. The health and safety of our players, staff and fans are our highest priorities, and we will implement all necessary safety measures as required.’’
As for the NFL, many staffers have been traveling during the offseason for various reasons, including the Scouting Combine and scouting.
“We are closely monitoring developments and have been in contact with the World Health Organization, CDC, and the NFL-NFLPA medical experts at the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network program for infection prevention,’’ league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “We will continue those discussions throughout our offseason.’’
The Revolution and Major League Soccer did not respond to requests for comment.
The NCAA, unlike previous years, has not scheduled any March Madness basketball tournament games this season in New England. The only Division 1 winter tournament events scheduled in Massachusetts are the Women’s Frozen Four at Boston University’s Agganis Arena (March 20 and 22) and the men’s ice hockey regionals at the DCU Center in Worcester (March 27-28).
The Hockey East tournament is scheduled for TD Garden March 20-21.
USA Today reported Friday that the NCAA has notified member schools they “have the primary responsibility for ensuring that actionable plans are in place to guide local response to a suspected or confirmed case of [coronavirus] among school personnel or a related exposure incident at an on-campus event.’’Alex Speier, Gary Washburn, and Nora Princiotti of the Globe staff, and Globe correspondent Nicole Yang contributed to this report. Bob Hohler can be reached at [email protected].