Coronavirus is hitting home in Surprise.
While the city doesn’t have any documented positive cases of the Coronavirus, there’s no doubt it has already changed the way of life here — starting with the loss of spring training, high school activities and possibly much more.
The worldwide pandemic forced the cancellation of the final 10 games of spring training and the economic impact it brings with it. Major League Baseball canceled the final games and the first two weeks of the regular season on March 12 just before the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners were about to play on a rain-soaked field.
Additionally, all high school and middle-level athletic games, all performance arts events and all school assemblies will also be canceled through Friday, March 27.
“In an abundance of caution, Dysart is taking a number of actions to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our students, families and staff,” the district wrote in a letter sent home with students March 12.
DUSD has decided as of March 13 to keep schools open but cancel the extra-curricular activities to “reduce social interactions,” according to the letter to parents. The ban extends to field trips and any other travel.
As a precaution, Dysart will not allow non-essential campus visitors, including volunteers, beyond the front office.
Other cancellations include the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games that Surprise Stadium was scheduled to host between March 22 and 28. MLB also canceled the WBC games that were supposed to be played in Tucson.
It all comes as the world undertakes “social distancing” to reduce the chance of spreading the Coronavirus here.
Upcoming city events, such as the State of the City celebration on Thursday, March 26; the Surprise Festival Days in early April and the just-announced Surprise Rib Fest Throwdown in late April, are currently still planned as scheduled — but that can all chance in an instant.
“As this remains a very fluid situation we are attempting to anticipate coming objectives and be ready to amend plans and strategies as needed,” Surprise Deputy City Manager and spokeswoman Diane Arthur said.
“The health of our employees and the community is our priority,” Ms. Arthur said.
DUSD also plans to go ahead with upcoming performances at the newly branded Vista Center for the Arts.
“However, this situation is very fluid, so we will continue to monitor it throughout spring break and make adjustments if needed, or if recommended by the Arizona Department of Health Services,” DUSD spokeswoman Renee Ryon said.
The letter sent home to parents last week detailed additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures that have been instituted.
Staff has been spraying down playground equipment, sanitizing public areas, restrooms, cafeterias, and high contact areas like door hardware, gates, padlocks on a daily basis. Officials say school buses get sanitized between runs.
Teachers also reduced their touch/interactions with students and encouraging hand washing before spring break.
“At this time there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in our district,” the district letter to parents read. “We will keep you updated about any developments that impact our schools and community.”
MLB’s decision to end spring training early and send teams home mirrored what sports leagues did all around the world. The NBA was the first to make the decision the day before baseball did after two NBA players tested positive for Coronavirus.
Reporters and other media members were initially bared from entering the player locker rooms in the week before the cancelation.
Autograph seekers also found the going rough this year, as MLB officials warned players not to take pens and materials from fans. It appeared many players obliged the recommendation and eschewed offers to sign balls, caps, baseball cards and other assorted items children — and adults — urge the players to sign.
With the spring training crowds gone, the city of Surprise is operating its Pandemic Response Plan that’s part of its Emergency Operation Plan. Like DUSD, the city has created a website with links to federal, state and county sources. It’s found at surpriseaz.gov/3801/COVID-19.
“It is important that our city not be seen as the source of medical information on this issue,” Ms. Archer said. “We want to be the connector to those resources that are valid sources of information.”
Ms. Archer said the city’s emergency manager, police and fire-medical departments are engaged with agencies that include the Center for Disease Control, the Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County Department of Public Health, AZCHER.
“Our primary objectives throughout this process are to protect the health and safety of our employees and residents; and to ensure that the city can provide essential city services for our community,” Ms. Archer said.
The city’s Facilities Team began changing custodial protocols in late February. Ms. Archer said the team stepped up its focus on sanitizing public spaces, including handrails, elevator buttons and restrooms.
The city also began sharing information with staff members about proper ways to wash hands and the need to use hand sanitizers.
“We have since reminded staff that the three ways they can help maintain a healthy work environment is to daily sanitize their personal work area; routinely wash their hands with soap and water; and if they are ill, to stay home,” Ms. Archer said.
City offices have signs posted on front-facing counters that encourage those in the public who are sick to come back when they feel better, or to contact the city online, on the phone or through email. Those signs are in Spanish as well.
The Surprise Fire-Medical Department is taking “extra precautions to keep our people healthy,” spokeswoman Julie Moore said.
“We are receiving additional details and screening from the Phoenix Dispatch Center regarding how to look for Coronavirus symptoms when interacting with a patient,” Ms. Moore said. “We are also donning extra personal protective equipment such as masks, eye protection, gloves and sleeves.”
The city said for refunds for any or all games between March 12 and 21 will be automatic if the tickets were bought at Surprise Stadium Box office, on the phone, or through the Tickets.com outlet online.
For fans who paid cash, a refund check will be mailed to customers with an account. Those without an account must fill out a refund request form and include the original tickets.
Contact the Surprise Stadium Box Office at 623-222-2222, or email email@example.com. The box office will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday, March 20 to assist with any questions or refund concerns.
For those who bought their tickets on StubHub or another secondary market provider, it’ll be more difficult to get a refund.
The city is asking fans to refer to the “help” section of the site from which where they were purchased for refunds on tickets for postponed, rescheduled or canceled events.
The city will not provide any refunds or exchanges of any ticket purchased via StubHub or any other secondary market reseller. StubHub Customer Service can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans,” according to the statement MLB released. “MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by Coronavirus.”
Editor’s Note: Jason Stone can be reached at email@example.com. Visit yourvalley.net.