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School district restricts travel

The Pahrump Valley High School softball team’s trip to the Warm-Up Elite Tournament in St. George, Utah, this weekend is the first sports casualty of the Nye County School District’s ban on out-of-state travel announced Wednesday in response to the COVID-19 virus.

“There is no higher priority to us than the safety of our students and staff,” stated a release posted on the district’s website. “This is why the Nye County School District is restricting all out-of-state and international district-sponsored employee and student travel effective March 13th, 2020 and until further notice.”

The softball team already has competed in one tournament outside Nevada, sending two teams to compete in the Colorado River Invitational in Needles, California last weekend.

PVHS Athletics Administrator Jason Odegard said Tuesday that he had not yet heard of any cancellations related to COVID-19, only to learn one day later about the new policy.

“I just got a memo a little over an hour ago that bans out-of-state travel starting Friday,” Odegard said Wednesday. “Baseball is already gone, so they will finish their trip. But the softball tournament for this weekend and baseball tournament for next weekend are a no-go.”

The Trojans baseball team already was off on its annual trip to the Route 66 Baseball Classic, hosted jointly by Needles High School in California and River Valley High School in Arizona. Pahrump Valley played two games Thursday and has two games scheduled for Friday and a single game slated for Saturday.

Pahrump Valley’s opponents include three schools from Arizona, one from California and The Meadows School of Las Vegas, which, as a private school, is not subject to the Clark County School District travel ban announced last week.

But the baseball team’s trip to the Hurricane Valley Spring Starter Tournament in Utah is canceled, a development Trojans coach Brian Hayes said left him “disappointed.”

Softball coach Cassondra Lauver said she is hoping to find games to replace the games canceled this weekend.

“Right now, we are scrambling to try to get a game scheduled against a Clark County school, which was also affected,” Lauver said. “It’s definitely a disadvantage to us considering any schools playing in-state tournaments which might even have farther to travel won’t be affected.”

Hayes said a replacement game is a possibility.

“We have a few (possible opponents) in mind,” he said. “Still trying to see if we can make Utah work.”

The NCSD said it will be reviewing its policy regularly.

“We will continue monitoring the developments of coronavirus COVID-19 and assess the restriction on travel on a daily basis,” the release stated.

While not thrilled with the loss of competitive games, Lauver maintained an upbeat tone.

“It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to adapt and battle through adversity,” she said. “We’ll be just fine either way.”

The district’s actions come amid the spread of COVID-19 to Nevada.

Five cases have been identified in Southern Nevada (Clark County) and two in the north as of Wednesday by the Southern Nevada Health District. Three of the “presumptive positive” cases were announced by the health district on Wednesday.

Two of the cases were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in Washoe County and the other in Clark County.

No deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in the state as of Wednesday. Also, no cases have been identified in Pahrump or Nye County as of Wednesday. More than 1,000 people have been infected with the virus in the U.S. with the global number surpassing 118,000, according to the World Health Organization.

According to comments by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, the virus had spread to 114 countries and 4,291 people had died from the disease.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” he said during a media briefing.

The WHO recently declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” Ghebreyesus said. “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

Ghebreyesus said during the press briefing, “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”

Nye County is working to keep local residents up to date with the launch of a webpage where COVID-19 information is available, including tips on prevention. The site is at https://bit.ly/33c4b1T

The Southern Nevada Health District has also activated a phone line for those with questions on COVID-19, which operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 702-759-4636.

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