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NBA season suspended, large events canceled in U.S. amid rising COVID-19 caseload

(Xinhua)    10:45, March 12, 2020

NEW YORK, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States has tallied 1,200 COVID-19 cases as of 9 p.m. on Wednesday (0100 GMT on Thursday), adding some 200 cases in 24 hours and currently ranking the eighth in the world, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 36 fatalities have been reported from the states of Washington, California, Florida, New Jersey and South Dakota, according to the center.

As the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the outbreak as a "pandemic" on Wednesday, various states and organizations have taken more cautious measures to counter the spread of the disease, such as cancelling large gatherings and closing schools.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice," the league said in a statement on Wednesday night.

"The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic," it said.

Washington, the hardest hit state with over 300 cases and 29 fatalities, has introduced a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in the counties of King, Snohomish and Pierce.

The restriction, which covers gatherings for social, recreational, spiritual, sports and other events, is in effect through March and "very likely" could be extended beyond this month and could be expanded in the coming days, said Governor Jay Inslee at a news conference on Wednesday.

Calling the COVID-19 outbreak "an unprecedented public health situation," the governor said the state has to get ahead of the curve to reduce the interaction of people in daily life.

Inslee also asked school districts to make contingency plans for possible closures and suggested the workplaces should maximize telecommuting options for as many employees as possible.

In Texas, the remainder of the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was canceled on Wednesday as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared a health emergency in the country's fourth largest city over COVID-19 concerns.

Officials said a man from Montgomery County, who was identified as a presumptive positive case of coronavirus, is believed to have attended the rodeo cooking contest on Feb. 28.

Epidemiologists are working to retrace the patient's steps and determine whether the patient had symptoms when attending the event.

Turner said the man was not related to international travel, which demonstrated evidence of community spread and led to the decision to cancel the rodeo.

"This decision has not come easily," said Turner in regard to suspending the world's largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo.

"But the health and safety of the people in our region is paramount," he said in a news briefing.

Also canceled is the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2020 (E3 2020), one of the biggest annual events of the video game industry in the world scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.

"Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation," said the Entertainment Software Association, organizer of the event, in a statement on Wednesday.

This is the first time that E3 was canceled since its launch in 1995. The event drew more than 66,000 attendees last year.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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