EVERETT, Wash. — Snohomish County health officials confirmed a case of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in an Everett Community College student Thursday, prompting an immediate closure of the school’s campus and all facilities, and the indefinite postponement of the Northwest Athletic Conference women’s and men’s basketball championship tournaments, which tipped off Thursday morning.
The decision — made by school leaders and its Board of Governors — came prior to the top-ranked Umpqua Community College women facing host Everett in the first round of the tournament.
Everett President Daria J. Willis posted the following statement on the school’s web site:
“Everett Community College has received many questions and requests for additional information from students, faculty, and staff about the student who informed us this afternoon of a positive COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) test.
“We are working closely with the Snohomish Health District. The Health District has asked the college to give their disease investigators some time to do their work. Consequently, we are not providing further information at this time.
“If you were directly impacted, you will be contacted by public health officials as soon as possible.”
Snohomish County was the first locale in the United States to report a confirmed case of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised officials to avoid hosting events of more than 50 people in Snohomish County.
The NWAC tournaments typically draw hundreds of spectators, according to Everett C.C. Athletic Director Garet Studer.
The announcement of the campus closure was made at halftime of Thursday’s noon women’s game between North Idaho College and Lower Columbia. Only three of the scheduled eight first-round games were completed.
The Umpqua women’s team, which was to face Everett in the next game on the schedule, was just beginning pregame preparations when the cancellation was announced.
“They sent someone for me, brought me into a hallway behind the bleachers and informed me of their decision to close the campus,” UCC coach Dave Stricklin said.
The Riverhawks (29-0), trying to claim the NWAC championship after back-to-back runner-up finishes, had to put those plans on hold until the conference develops a contingency plan.
Stricklin said most coaches are hopeful for the tournament to be able to conclude by next weekend, as many of the athletes will be facing winter term finals the week after.
“We’re just going to have to adjust,” Stricklin said.
It’s unknown if the tournament will be allowed to resume at Everett, or if it will have to move to other schools — within close proximity of each other — to host the men’s and women’s tournaments separately.
Efforts to reach an official at the NWAC were unsuccessful at press time.