LINCOLN – Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and county health officials were accompanied by school & NSAA board members at a press conference this morning, to discuss the current situation in the City of Lincoln and the upcoming Boys State Basketball Tournament as it pertains to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nebraska.
Pat Lopez, Lancaster county interim health department director, confirmed that the Crofton student who tested positive for COVID-19 did stay with Lincoln family members from Thursday, March 5th through the 8th. Those family members, and the student’s family in Crofton, are now self-quarantined. Lopez stated that none of the family members are symptomatic, as of today. The student did not stay in any Lincoln hotels or eat in any Lincoln restaurants.
The county health department is still investigating the possible contacts that student may have had while attending Girls State Basketball Tournament games on March 5th, where the student sat in both the Hartington and Crofton student sections. The origin of the student’s infection is currently unknown.
“The health department is recommending that the NSAA Boys State Basketball tournament be an event that is not with spectators, that we only have immediate family members,” Pat Lopez concluded.
The NSAA will take that recommendation.
State Commissioner of Education, Matthew Blomstedt, said that the decision to proceed with a modified State Basketball Tournament was made “to recognize the fact that students have worked hard to be part of this.” He said that the decision to limit spectators to immediate family, however, was necessary for the protection of public health. “Obviously the importance for school districts to be able to retain a sense of normalcy around operations is being challenged. Canceling a large event like this is about public health – it’s about ensuring that we don’t create an environment that makes it worse, for the state of Nebraska, for our vulnerable populations across the state. I believe this is absolutely the right call.”
Jay Beller at the NSAA said the logistics are being worked out now. “To tell you what it’s going to look like at this point in time, probably premature,” he remarked. “As soon as we know, we’ll get that out to everybody.”
Beller echoed the sentiments that many will have about this change. “We are very saddened that it can’t go on with all the fans there,” he said, “but we do realize that this is the best thing to do.”