Owner to rebuild after sports dome collapses under snowfall !

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) — The owner of a sports complex in the upstate New York city of Binghamton says he plans to rebuild after its air-supported dome collapsed under this week’s record-breaking snowfall. No one was injured when one of the state’s largest indoor sports complexes collapsed Thursday under 40 inches of snow. Owner Bahij Kashou told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin he was meeting with his insurance company representatives to determine the fate of the 125,000-square-foot complex. The Kashou family plans to rebuild but needs $120,000 before insurance kicks in. The complex was built in 2005 and is known for its full-size soccer field but has hosted many types of other sporting events, including women’s football.

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This sport is a ‘way of life.’ In a pandemic, it’s also high risk.

WEST ORANGE, N.J. — On a recent Sunday at a cavernous ice skating complex in suburban New Jersey, locker rooms sat empty while hockey players slipped into their uniforms in the parking lot.

The nearly 2,500 seats surrounding the main rink in West Orange, about 20 miles from Manhattan, were also empty, cordoned off with yellow caution tape. Instead, hockey parents gathered in the parking lot around elaborate audio visual setups, including a projection screen unfurled behind an SUV, to watch livestreams of their children playing.

It was not the typical routine at a youth hockey competition, but it was the new reality the sport has had to adapt to during the pandemic. It was also one of the last times even this strange scene would unfold. New Jersey put hockey on hold Dec. 5 as part of its effort to combat a spike in the coronavirus.

In New Jersey and in many suburban towns across the Northeast, youth hockey is an all-consuming ritual of the cold weather months. Players and their families devote nights and weekends and routinely drive hundreds of miles to compete in multiday tournaments.

“This is a way of life,” said Vincent Cucci III, a lawyer from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, whose two sons and daughter play on three different teams.

But like so many other things, it is a way of life that has been upended by the pandemic after a number of large coronavirus outbreaks were connected to hockey.

This Sport Is a ‘Way of Life.’ In a Pandemic, It’s Also High Risk.

A youth league ice hockey game is recorded, but not attended by any spectators, at a recreation complex in West Orange, N.J., Nov, 22, 2020. Youth ice hockey in New Jersey and many suburban towns across the Northeast, normally an all-consuming annual ritual for many families during the winter, has been upended, like so many things this year, after a large number of coronavirus outbreaks. (Bryan Anselm/The New York Times)

In many states, youth hockey is now on hiatus.

New York has banned games and scrimmages since the beginning of the pandemic. New Jersey and Connecticut stopped competitive hockey and other youth sports until January. And interstate tournaments in the Northeast have been suspended.

In places where youth hockey has not been halted, the normal rhythms have been tossed out the window — no spectators allowed in arenas, locker rooms off limits to players and teams subject to mandatory quarantine if even one athlete tests positive for the virus.

For many state governments, shutting down hockey is a logical step to slow the spread of the virus.

In mid-November, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said that officials had been hearing of noncompliance with safety protocols, including by parents, and warned that “hockey is in our cross hairs.” In some instances, parents would congregate in restaurants or bars, potentially risky places to be, while their children played.

But to players and parents, canceling hockey means giving up a cherished pastime and the chance to connect with peers when many young people are isolated at home because of remote learning.

Cucci’s son, Vincent Cucci IV, who often plays at the West Orange arena as part of a New Jersey Devils under-18 youth hockey team, described getting out on the ice as “an escape from the world around you.”

New Jersey health officials grew concerned after they connected youth hockey to 22 coronavirus outbreaks around the state, many more than other indoor sports, like basketball, gymnastics and swimming.

Cucci, a 17-year-old senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, said he understood the need for safety but believed that the precautions that teams and rink operators had taken were sufficient.

“I’m scared of losing my last season, scared of losing the last opportunity to play with friends I’ve played with since I was 8 years old,” he said.

Even before Murphy’s most recent ban, Cucci’s season had been delayed about two months and was interrupted when teams had to quarantine for two weeks when one of their players tested positive for the virus.

In New York, teams have had to settle for constant practicing.

Brett Jackson, the coach for an under-18 hockey team in Mamaroneck, said his players longed for games.

“It’s a little tougher to get the kids motivated, because it’s just practice,” Jackson said.

Some teams in New York had been traveling to neighboring states to play games before those states started banning the practice.

Ken Smith, the rink manager at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford, Connecticut, said many out-of-state teams had scheduled games there when they could not play in their home states.

“Every local youth hockey organization within 30 miles was kind of ice hunting in Connecticut,” Smith said, adding, “That has all stopped for the time being, obviously.”

New York state officials said teams that ignored the rules and still traveled out of state to play were helping spread the virus.

“The hockey-related clusters in New York have been connected to games played in other states — showing that even when we have strong rules in place, we can be hampered by individual actions,” said Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Some parents and hockey players remain unconvinced that hockey is as much of a culprit as public health officials portray.

Kristen Schultz, who lives in Livingston, New Jersey, and manages her son Dillon’s under-16 team, said the operators of Essex County’s Richard J. Codey Arena, the official name of the West Orange facility, were so careful that “you can’t catch a cold, let alone COVID.”

But safety practices differ from rink to rink, and some medical experts see indoor rinks as intrinsically unsafe environments.

Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, dean of Rutgers University’s School of Public Health and an expert in infectious diseases, said the way hockey is played and its indoor setting made the sport a risky activity.

“It’s really an ideal transmission vector” because of factors like sweat, spit and physical proximity, Halkitis said.

Still, identifying the source of transmissions is not foolproof, and some infections linked to hockey could have actually occurred in other settings, he said.

USA Hockey, the sport’s national governing body and a major organizer of youth leagues, has published best practices on how to play, including enforcing social distancing and avoiding contact on the ice, limiting or avoiding time in locker rooms and wearing masks.

“If you want to keep playing, we’ve all got to do this in and around the rink,” said Dave Fischer, a spokesperson for USA Hockey.

Most players and parents at Codey Arena were less concerned about health risks than the prospect of giving up their season.

Marcos Trasbach, a 16-year-old from Hawthorne, New Jersey, was changing out of his gear in the rink’s lobby after his team lost a game. He sat on a chair set well apart from other players.

“We’re all separated in the rink,” Trasbach said. “Playing hockey, I don’t feel scared at all.”

“This is my primary sport, and I care a lot for it,” he added. “If this season ended, my hockey career would probably peter out,” he said, and he would lose “the brotherhood you get with your teammates.”

As Trasbach and his teammates left the rink, two teams of younger players had their temperatures scanned in the lobby before filing in.

Jay Butchko was sitting in his black Mercedes GLS 550 with his son Ryan, who had just finished playing. Butchko, who lives in Toms River, along the Jersey Shore, had watched the game from his car.

“The ultimate goal of all hockey parents is to be safe, and keep playing,” Butchko said. “Whatever it takes to do, we’ll do in order to keep our kids playing.”

Cucci’s last game before New Jersey’s shutdown took effect was against the Cranford Hockey Club. The teams had moved the game up before the ban started.

“I find it a little disappointing, for sure, but there’s been plenty of good that’s come out of hockey,” Cucci said, “and you have to take the bad with the good.”

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Full pause on New Jersey indoor youth, adult sports begins Saturday; college, pro teams not affected !

December 6th, 2020 –

“The pause on indoor sports excludes college and professional teams.”

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) — All indoor youth and adults sports in New Jersey are now suspended because of the climbing COVID-19 caseload.

The pause began at 6 a.m. Saturday and goes until Jan. 2.

Governor Phil Murphy said Monday it covers all youth and adult sports, but excludes college and professional athletics.

“We do not take this step lightly,” said Murphy, a father of four. “As folks probably know I’m a huge sports fan and all of our kids play sports. I hope and intend to see the winter sports season in January.”

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Riverfront Sports closed during Thanksgiving week to prevent COVID-19 spread !

December 2, 2020

SCRANTON, Pa. — It was back to the action and exercise here inside Riverfront Sports in Scranton!

The popular sports complex on West Olive Street provides a place for people, from children to adults, to participate in leagues of soccer, basketball, lacrosse and field hockey, as well as equipment for training and exercise.

So that’s why the owner, Kevin Clark, says he made the tough decision to close his facility all through the Thanksgiving holiday week, Monday through Sunday, as a precaution as COVID cases were spiking across our area.

“We understand the amount of people that come in and out of our building so we thought it was best for the week that we shut down so people can enjoy time with their families,” said Clark. “There would be less exposures and we can continue to operate afterward.”

When Riverfront was forced to close in the spring, Clark implemented several safety measures.

A thermal-imaging camera is installed at the only entrance to the facility.
It can take the temperatures of multiple people at a time, allowing groups to pass in without getting backlogged.

“It comes up green with the actual number temperature on their forehead. Anything 100.4 or below is a good temperature, we allow them access to the building,” said Clark.

However if a person comes in with a temperature over that number, their image on the screen will turn red and an alarm will sound.

People here say they notice all the effort being taken for their safety.

“We’ve decided not to let our kids stop living their lives and because of the precautions we know are taken here, we’re very comfortable here,” said Jolene Wilson, a Lake Lehman parent there to watch her daughter play basketball.

“Obviously they take a lot of precautions with the heat monitors and stuff,” said Amaya Moniacelli, an 8th grader at North Pocono from Moscow. “And I know a lot people who work here and they’re really good people so they would make it clean for everybody.”

Clark says he used the time last week when Riverfront Sports was closed to get it deep cleaned by a professional cleaning staff as well as his own fulltime maintenance team.

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Florida firm will oversee multisport complex at $1B Bluhawk project in Overland Park !

Are winter sports safe with COVID numbers continuing to climb ?

Are winter sports safe with COVID numbers continuing to climb ?

BILOXI, Miss. – As COVID cases climb, concern also grows about the future of winter sports. State health officials say close-contact sports can contribute to dangerous virus-spreading.

“The CDC had a recent analysis of a hockey outbreak. They had two teams. One person gave it to 22 people on one hockey team. That’s pretty appalling,” said State Health Officer Doctor Thomas Dobbs. “I think yes, it is quite likely that it is more dangerous. There’s less people on the court, the proximity, the indoor nature of it, the less airflow is intrinsically more concerning.”

His concerns were also echoed by State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

“Basketball is a particular concern. We’ve seen clusters and outbreaks in basketball teams and we’re worried about that. some cases school have had to quarantine those teams,” said Byers. “Some schools have decided to cancel basketball because of the high-risk nature”

It is that high-risk nature that has some calling for the season to be postponed, but many of the fans refuse to support that idea. Some are even asking, if football can go on with larger crowds, why can’t basketball?

“They shouldn’t cancel it at all. Why cancel young kids playing basketball and having fun?” said Willie R. Manning of Biloxi. “This is what they want to do. This is their dream. They want to come out here and have as much fun as possible. So this is some of their last year, so why not let them play ball. They played football, so why not? You played volleyball? You’re going to play soccer, they are going to play everything else, just limit the people that come inside and I believe everything will be alright.”

If the sport taking place inside is the problem, one fan suggested taking it outside.

“Take it to the blacktop, why not? It is only fair to the kids, with all the hard work they put in they deserve this,” said Kyle Cruso of Biloxi.

Some believe enough safety precautions are already in place.

“You love to see the crowd, spaced out with our masks on, safety first,” said Moss Point parent Carla Carter.

As of now, the winter sports season is moving ahead as scheduled for schools in South Mississippi.

The game between Gulfport and Pascagoula was canceled earlier this week after someone on the Panthers tested positive for COVID, said Gulfport school officials.

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The Loss of One Youth or Amateur Sports Tournament Costs a City an Average of $360,000 in Hotel Revenue !

New data from EventConnect reveals the enormous economic impact on cities from the loss of youth or amateur sports tournaments due to COVID-19


LONDON, Ontario – [Canada] Today, EventConnect, the leading provider of event and sports tourism management software, announced findings showing the significant economic impact felt by cities from the loss of youth and amateur sports tournaments a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings from EventConnect’s internal database of over 4,000 events, 400 associations, 15,000 hotels, and 800 cities revealed that the cancellation of just one tournament costs a city an average of $360,000. However, the cancellation of a big tournament can result in a city losing as much as $5,074,185 in a single weekend. The US cities that have so far been hit the hardest in 2020 due to the pandemic’s cancellations are Mauston, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; Georgetown, Delaware; Boston, Massachusetts; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Buffalo, New York.

However, as restrictions on tournaments vary between the states, those states expecting to see the largest number of tournaments return between November 2020 and the end of March 2021 are:

  • Texas (54 tournaments)
  • Wisconsin (22 tournaments)
  • Florida (21 tournaments)
  • West Virginia (13 tournaments)
  • Maryland (9 tournaments)
  • Indiana (7 tournaments)
  • Mississippi (7 tournaments)

Some tournaments are choosing to relocate to other states to enable travel teams to compete still. For example, in Boston, Massachusetts, some events are being moved to Connecticut and New Hampshire, causing potential Boston hotel revenue losses of over $574,848. The data also shows that most of the teams are currently traveling to tournaments from New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Las Vegas, NV; and San Diego, CA.

Due to tighter restrictions on indoor tournaments, when it comes to travel tournament cancellations, some sports like hockey have been hit harder than others that are commonly played outdoors, such as soccer and baseball. EventConnect’s data shows that while there were 140 hockey tournaments initially scheduled for 2020, only 10 of them could be played.

“This year has been filled with uncertainty in the youth and amateur sports industry, but it is encouraging to see that sporting events are starting to kick off again, especially around the South and East Coast. I hope they will soon pick up again on the West Coast as well in a manner that ensures everyone’s health and safety,” said John D’Orsay, CEO at EventConnect. “In areas where youth and amateur sports have not yet come back, there is an opportunity for tournament rights holders to use this time to review their workflow and the technology that they use to manage events. Our highly customizable solution gives tournament organizers more time to market and produces events with a lower headcount, ultimately resulting in increased revenue.”

About the data

The report’s findings were compiled from an internal database of over 4,000 events, 400 associations, 15,000 hotels, and 800 cities. The loss of city revenue was calculated using EventConnect’s data on the average cost of a hotel room for a team at a travel tournament and the assumption that a family spends $115 per day traveling on food, drinks, transportation and entertainment.

Find the full report here: https://eventconnect.io/youth-amateur-sports-return/

About EventConnect

EventConnect is the only event management software in the sports tourism industry that connects thousands of partners on one platform. Working with more than 4,000 events, 15,000 hotels in over 800 cities across North America, we have built a platform that truly makes everyone’s experience better. EventConnect helps sports organizations reduce time spent on administrative tasks and increase capacity for delivering memorable experiences to all participants. The end-to-end platform is customized for each partner’s needs and is seamless for organizers and participants to use, ensuring that it creates efficiency while increasing value. EventConnect has an average savings of 24% on hotel rates versus the leading booking platforms and has a 98% rate of booking satisfaction and positive experiences.

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Comeback Kids – Youth Sports Programming Amidst a Pandemic !

Courtesy Recreation Management Magazine –

       By Rick Dandes

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY

After months of shutdown because of the coronavirus, there is cautious optimism among those who fund, manage and run youth sports programs that leagues can resume and kids can play safely.

“Organized sports are starting to return for youth of all ages, though as of September, they are still half as active as they were prior to the pandemic,” said Jon Solomon, editorial director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. “Parents are more willing to let their children play, and to spend money to support those activities, despite increasing concerns about the risks of COVID-19 transmission as well as transportation and scheduling concerns with school starting up again.”

Meanwhile, Solomon noted, a growing number of youths have no interest in returning to the primary sport they played pre-pandemic—nearly three in 10 now, according to a national survey of parents conducted by the Aspen Institute.

A year ago, Aspen’s Project Play program provided insights on how common it is for kids to quit sports, while sharing resources to keep them playing. But no one could have envisioned that every child would be “retired” by March 2020, Solomon said.

“Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, four out of 10 youth sports families saw their child play their primary sport at least four days per week,” he explained, “so the change was a jolt for many families. By September 2020, many parts of the country were back to playing sports, but which sports returned still varied by state and local communities.”

Solomon revealed other notable takeaways from the survey: One of the most popular activities for youth was bicycling, he said. While kids have significantly decreased their hours in most sports and activities during the pandemic, bicycling stayed about the same (9.1 hours per week during COVID-19, compared with 10.5 hours per week before COVID-19). Bicycling went from the 16th-most popular activity pre-pandemic to No. 3 in hours spent during COVID-19, behind only tackle and flag football.

Of the 21 sports and activities tracked by the Aspen Institute survey, parents reported increased hours by their child in 10 of them between June 2020 and September 2020. Some of the changes in time spent could be due to the sports calendar evolving to different seasons.

“Kids spent 29% more time on baseball in September than in June,” Solomon noted. “Soccer moved slower with a 4% increase over those three months. Tackle football was up 10%. Basketball, a contact sport often played indoors during the winter, was down 10%. The average child spends about 6.5 hours less per week on sports during COVID-19. Free play, practices and competitions have all significantly declined. Time spent on games has declined by 59%, and practice hours are down 54% during the pandemic, though both saw increases in September 2020 compared to June 2020.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTH SPORTS FOUNDATION

“The pandemic has had a major effect on all of our activities at the YMCA, especially programming,” said Bonita McDowell, CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA.

“One example of that was how the shutdown affected our swim team, which is comprised of really talented youth-age swimmers. They had national swim meets right around the corner, and then it was canceled.”

What was sad, McDowell explained, is that these youths often get scholarships at Division 1 universities through their performances at the nationals. “They were not able to finish out their senior season with YMCA Swimming. It was really unfortunate for them to miss out on that. Nationals is what they swim for all year as they grow up—looking for the chance to compete at that level of competition.”

It was a shame to see track and field, baseball, and softball seasons canceled at the high school level as well, McDowell said. With those sports opportunities not there, the YMCA began thinking about what kids could do during that free time. “Our solution was to do a lot of virtual coaching—offering ideas on ways for kids to be active on their own, wherever they are. We thought about coaching them on training that they can do alone, workouts they can do on their own. For swimmers, the challenge was, what kind of training can they do outside the pool? So there was still a lot of coaching going on, mostly for our older kids. The younger kids, we did what we could.”

Hard Hit

The Youth Sports Foundation in Muscatine, Iowa, is a private, nonprofit organization running youth sports in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. When the pandemic first hit, said president and co-founder Jim Miller, “our co-ed track-and-field program, which is in the spring, got shut down. In February we tried to be optimistic. Even in March. We kept moving the programs scheduled for spring back a month, then another month, until it got to the point where we realized we were not going to be able to have the programs up and running. All spring and summer programs had to be canceled. We had to give refunds because typically we do our registration in February for spring programs. That money had to go back to parents, and when you are nonprofit you rely on those registration fees and donations.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY

The other problem that Miller had involved grants. “When I go out to get funding for the new year, we usually start in December and January. By February, we had already gotten some grants. When the pandemic hit, the people who handed out the grants called and said they were going to take those funds and redirect it to the COVID fight. As an American, how can I argue with what could help, considering what was going on in March? That really hurt us as well. Grant funding, and no programs. I didn’t know where we were going to be.”

As states shut down, the foundation got enormous numbers of requests for refunds from parents and from some of the leagues. “It’s amazing how in our region, the decisions made by colleges to play or not to play affects parents in youth programs,” Miller said.” When the Big 10 shut down and originally said they were not going to play football, the number of phone calls we got asking for refunds was significant. This was a very difficult time for us. Things have gotten better for us in the fall.”

Up & Running, Carefully

The youth sports landscape has become clogged with challenges, as recreation professionals continue to revamp and rethink their youth programming during these unprecedented times, said John Engh, executive director, National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS).

In many states, Engh said, “outdoor youth sports programs like baseball, softball and soccer are up and running in a variety of forms, ranging from strictly skill-based practice sessions providing young athletes with the chance to at least be back on the field, to the actual playing of games and, in some cases, even tournaments—all with social distancing guidelines and assorted safety protocols in place.”

At NAYS, where the focus is on out-of-school recreational youth sports programs, “We encouraged youth sports administrators to use the most up-to-date information to set safety standards,” Engh said. “Additionally, we encourage those youth sports leaders to serve as a conduit to ensure the volunteer youth sports organizations get the information.”

Miller wishes he had some of that information back last spring. “We did not do anything virtually,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what I could do virtually with our track program in the summer or for our running summer sports camps. Our staff did talk about virtual programming.”

Miller contracts out YSF tech work, but that will change, he said. “Going forward, our board of directors has realized that it is essential. We need to use technology. Our coaches and board meetings were accessible on the Zoom platform, but as far as programming goes, at the time when the pandemic first hit, we just weren’t set up for that. We are looking into that now. We are looking to work with colleges on creating programs.”

Miller did get kids to register for fall football, volleyball and cheerleading programs, and those are going along “pretty good,” he said. “The football programs are operating with COVID guidelines that are in place. We had some cheerleading. But our volleyball got canceled altogether. We are only at about a third of where we were last year when it comes to our fall activities.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY

Meanwhile, all summer Miller and his staff worked with health officials on COVID guidelines—a difficult task, he explained, “because we use schools for our game sites and they all had different guidelines, so we were having to deal with that by individual district. Municipalities also had mandates and recommendations. It was a challenge, but we are playing some football, girls are cheerleading, and that was better than not having anything at all.”

Miller is optimistic about Spring and Summer 2021 youth leagues. “We are planning for things to be normal,” he said. “We hope there will be a vaccine available in 2021. I know there will continue to be guidelines that we’ll have to follow. But I told my staff to plan for a season like we normally do, and we’ll adjust on the fly as needed.”

Going through the pandemic last spring and summer taught the staff at YSF some things so they feel more prepared to adjust if they can’t have a normal year.

“Here in Iowa,” Miller said, “high school football has proceeded as normal, and that has been great. This past summer we ran a lot of youth baseball and softball and we have not seen COVID cases. In our fall Danville, Iowa, football program, however, I had to shut it down because we had five kids testing positive for COVID. We took it down for 10 days before re-evaluating the program.”

Miller is taking things as they come, something all youth programs, no matter where they are, will have to do, he said. “Here we have guidelines, and we’ll shut a program down if we need to and add extra weeks to the season for that team. We are doing what we need to do to keep kids safe. I think we’ll be OK for spring and summer. I hope our donations come back because if they don’t, that will kill us. We had to lay off three staffers. It’s still a fluid situation.”

Coaches, players and parents have all been great knowing that from this week to next week it could all change in an instant, Miller said. “Everyone is flexible. We have had a six-week football season, but it could be longer if needed. Right now things are good and we are being positive.”

MA. State releases updated COVID-19 safety guidelines for youth, adult amateur sports !

State releases updated COVID-19 safety guidelines for youth, adult amateur sports
Dedham warns youth sports are contributing to COVID-19 spread

Potential COVID-19 exposure at sports complex and church in Oneida County, NY !

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. — The Oneida County Health Department is alerting residents to two potential public exposures to COVID-19.

Accelerate Sports

  • Located at 5241 Judd Road in Whitesboro
  • Monday, Nov. 2: 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Rome Christian Center

  • Located at 7985 Turin Road in Rome
  • Sunday, Nov. 8: 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Anyone who may have been exposed should monitor their health for symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If symptoms occur, stay home and contact your primary care provider for further guidance.