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Getting ready for tipoff

Bruce Haroldson repairs a chip in the floor during the New York Life 2020 ACC Tournament practice day at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday. Haroldon has been in charge of installing and repairing courts for the past 25 years and has worked at Final Fours, the Olympics and the NCAA tournament. The men’s competition kicks off this afternoon. For more coverage of the event, see page B1.


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5 N.C. residents who attended Biogen conference test positive for COVID-19, officials say

Five more people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, having attended the same Biogen corporate conference in Boston, Mass., last month, Wake County officials said Monday.

More than two dozen people around the country who attended the Boston conference Feb. 24-27 have tested positive for the virus, including an Indiana resident. The Indiana patient also spent time at Biogen’s Research Triangle Park office last week before driving home, Wake officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will run second tests on the five new North Carolina patients to confirm results, Wake County said.

That brings North Carolina’s total cases to seven. All of the patients are in isolation while officials identify close contacts.

State health officials said Monday the five new cases are not related to North Carolina’s first case announced March 3, also involving a Wake County resident. The Wake County man tested presumptively positive with officials believing he was exposed at a long-term care facility in Kirkland, Wash., the site of an outbreak, and then returned to North Carolina.

On March 5, a Chatham County man who had traveled to northern Italy, where there’s a COVID-19 outbreak, tested presumptively positive, state health officials said March 6.

On Monday, Biogen, a biotechnology company with about 1,400 employees in Research Triangle Park, asked its employees to work from home after receiving word of the conference-related outbreak.

Officials said the Indiana patient attended the company conference and then began showing symptoms March 2 while working at Biogen’s RTP office. On March 6, the person drove home to Indiana, according to a news release.

There have been 423 cases of coronavirus reported in the U.S. and 19 deaths from the disease, as of March 9, the CDC said.

Coronavirus is primarily a respiratory disease, with symptoms similar to seasonal flu. According to the CDC, symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus, The Associated Press reports. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered, AP reported.


Z-no-digital
As the coronavirus rages on, all we can do is prepare. And wait.

GREENSBORO — The stock market took its biggest plunge since 2008. Ireland canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades. And five more North Carolina residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus strain, bringing the total number of cases to seven statewide.

On Monday, these were some of the biggest headlines generated by the outbreak of the coronavirus strain COVID-19.

In Greensboro, all we could do is prepare. And wait.

For another ripple effect.

For another piece of bad news.

For the crisis to possibly hit us.

Across Greensboro, from City Hall to Piedmont Triad International Airport, public officials and business leaders on Monday approached roughly Day 70 of the outbreak with a mix of pragmatism and optimism. They continued to make careful preparations for a disease that has already touched Wake — where six have the virus — and Chatham counties.

But not here. Not yet.

With thousands of fans coming to Greensboro for the ACC men’s basketball tournament — the first time it’s been in the city since 2015 — the timing couldn’t be worse.

Still, you wouldn’t know it if you were at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday. Team logos were installed. A worker repaired a chip on the court. UNC basketball coach Roy Williams held practice.

In other words, a typical day on the eve of the event.

Today, when the tournament begins for the 67th time, things shouldn’t seem out of the ordinary except for a couple of new things.

“The coliseum has put out additional hand-sanitizing units in the arena,” said Andrew Brown, the public relations manager for the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. “We are also putting up posters with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) recommendations to help mitigate the spread of germs.”

Guilford County health and emergency officials say things are in place to test people showing signs related to the contagious disease.

“We have the availability to test individuals as needed and are meeting the testing requirements,” spokeswoman Lora Coffey said by email.

Coffey said those requirements include having a fever and respiratory symptoms as well as being a recent visitor to such “affected geographic areas” as Iran, Italy, South Korea and China — where COVID-19 originated.

Only people who meet all three requirements should ask about being tested, Coffey said.

Cone Health is recommending that anybody who feels they may have contracted COVID-19 to contact their doctor.

Tonight, school administrators will present a report on emergency preparations at the Guilford County Board of Education meeting in High Point.

Wanda Legrand, the school system’s chief student support officer, said additional cleaning supplies were ordered a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of heavy demand. Additionally, training sessions were conducted with custodians, cafeteria managers and others to review how to clean common areas such as doorknobs and desks.

Over at PTI, you may notice more staff than usual wiping down handrails, cleaning door handles, sanitizing baggage areas and disinfecting seats.

Airport officials said they began taking the precautions weeks ago when the first reports of the coronavirus surfaced.

On Monday, city officials said they are monitoring the latest news and what effect it may carry for residents.

“If things progress, we will certainly adjust on the fly,” said Jake Keys, a city spokesman. “We’ll continue to watch and monitor and make decisions based off the current situation.”

Only time will tell if that situation will change.