NHL

3 San Jose Sharks home games in doubt as county bans large gatherings

The California county where the San Jose Sharks' home arena is located, is prohibiting all large gatherings of more than 1,000 people due to rising rates of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Ban to remain in place for 3 weeks, as Santa Clara County confirms 43 total cases

Three Sharks home games scheduled for later this month were postponed Monday as the California county where the SAP Center is located is prohibiting all large gatherings of more than 1,000 people due to rising rates of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The California county where the San Jose Sharks' home arena is located is prohibiting all large gatherings of more than 1,000 people due to rising rates of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The ban will take effect Wednesday at midnight PT and will remain in place for three weeks, according to the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.

The ban will likely affect three NHL games scheduled at the SAP Center against the Montreal Canadiens (March 19), Boston Bruins (March 21) and Arizona Coyotes (March 29).

The Sharks potentially could play in an empty SAP Center, at a neutral site or at the opposing team's venue, if available.

The Sharks are out of the NHL playoff picture and are scheduled to play their final two games of the season at home in April.

In a statement Monday, the Sharks said it will adhere to mandated guidelines.

It marks the first time a major North American sports team or league would be forced to postpone or cancel a game due to the outbreak.

Earlier this week, the BNP Paribas Open, the near-major tennis tournament set to begin Monday in the California desert, was postponed after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley.

The announcement Monday came hours after the public health department announced the first death in the county from COVID-19.

A woman in her 60s had been hospitalized for several weeks with the virus before dying. 

"This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, in a news release.

"The strong measures we are taking today are designed to slow the spread of disease."

Cody said the decision to ban large gatherings is designed to reduce the number of people who might get sick, and prevent the health-care system from becoming overwhelmed.

Santa Clara County confirmed six new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, raising its total to 43 confirmed cases.

with files from the Associated Press

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