Five men who attended an Indiana high school basketball tournament in March have died after contracting coronavirus, and at least a dozen others fell ill following the four-game bonanza.
Jim DeSalle, Paul Loggan, Larry Rush, Roscoe Taylor III and Charles Johnson have all passed away in recent weeks following their attendance at a March 6 game at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis where 2,800 spectators packed out the stands.
The event went ahead despite confirmation of a COVID-19 case in the state that morning, coming out of Community Health North, just four miles away from the school.
‘We started getting calls wondering if we were still going to play,’ Lawrence Central athletic director Ryan Banas told the Indianapolis Star.
Roscoe Taylor III, Paul Loggan, Charles Johnson, Jim DeSalle, and Larry Rush have all passed away in recent weeks following their attendance on March 6
Paul Loggan, 57, was an athletics director at North Central and alongside counterparts from Warren Central and Crispus Attucks, gave approval for the games to go ahead
For the second game of the night, Jim DeSalle (left), 70, sat near North Central’s bench. Larry Rush (right), 67, was an Uber driver and was at the game supporting Lawrence North
Charles Johnson, 78, (left) attended games March 3, 6 and 7. He died March 27. Roscoe Taylor III (right) died April 5
Elsewhere in Indiana, 63 other high school games went ahead too.
It’s unclear where the men contracted the virus but it’s noted there were plenty of hugs, handshakes and high fives at the sectional semi-finals. The NBA suspended their season the following week. Indiana didn’t lock down until two weeks after the high school sectional.
Loggan, 57, was an athletics director at North Central and alongside counterparts from Warren Central and Crispus Attucks, gave approval for the games to go ahead that evening. Loggan spent most of the game standing at the end of his team’s bench and was in the school gym for two hours.
Larry Rush, 67, was an Uber driver and was at the game supporting Lawrence North.
Taylor, 43, was a cafeteria worker at Stonybrook Middle School and sat in the lower level of Warren Central’s section. His fever kicked in March 20 and he died April 5. His father Roscoe Taylor III, 66, also had the virus and died March 29.
Johnson, 78, was positioned three rows behind Warren Central’s bench alongside his wife Kay – who also fell ill but wasn’t tested.
Johnson attended games March 3, 6 and 7, plus went the grocery store and church that weekend before he started displaying symptoms. He died March 27 and Kay doesn’t know who had the virus first.
For the second game of the night, Jim DeSalle, 70, sat near North Central’s bench. Earlier in the day he was at a youth township game. The following night he was pictured clipping a piece of the sectional net.
At the time of the first case – an individual who had recently returned from Boston -the Indiana community was not considered to be at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
‘There is no ongoing risk to the public,’ state department of health commissioner Dr. Kris Box said that day. Bur Box added: ‘The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we can expect to see other cases in Indiana in the future.’
At 2.05pm that day the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) reassured the people the environment would be safe.
‘We will continue to monitor the developments and listen to medical experts and if it becomes necessary to make adjustments to high school sporting events, we will work with our member schools to take every precaution to ensure a healthy and safe environment for everyone involved,’ they said in a statement.
Fans pack in to Lawrence Central for the Cathedral Fighting Irish and Crispus Attucks Tigers game during IHSAA sectional play at Lawrence Central High School on Wednesday, March 4
Lawrence North assistant Jim Stanbrough, 64, fell ill after sitting at a table with DeSalle. His wife Marta also contracted the virus but her symptoms were milder
Lawrence North assistant Jim Stanbrough, 64, fell ill after sitting at a table with DeSalle the following night after the games wrapped up.
Other staff at Stanbrough’s school sat at other tables.
‘That night is something I’ll never forget,’ Stanbrough said. ‘Jim and I sat at a table, just the two of us. I’ll always remember that. Did I give it to him? Did he give it to me? I don’t know the answer. There were a lot of people connected to it.’
Stanbrough felt sick immediately after the dinner, and on March 10 went to the doctor where he tested positive for the flu. He was in and out of the emergency room March 17 and 19 and tested positive for coronavirus March 23.
DeSalle died April 1. Stanbrough was readmitted hospital on April 2 and stayed there for six days after suffering blood clots in his lungs and legs. He had no underlying illnesses.
His wife Marta also contracted the virus but her symptoms were milder and included loss of taste and smell.
Fellow Lawrence North Staff Gerad Good, 49, fell ill with fever four days later. He has asthma and was sick for 16 days but the virus didn’t go into his lungs. He lost 22 pounds.
It’s possible the virus had been spreading in the community earlier in the week.
The virus is spread via respiratory droplets and can last on surfaces several days.
Khyrie Abdullah, 33, wasn’t at the March 6 game but attended the tournament the previous two nights.
Abdullah, a track coach at Lawrence Central and assistant football coach at Lawrence Central, was in hospital by Mach 16 and on a ventilator March 19. He stayed on the breathing machine 13 days and tested positive for the virus in the meantime.
‘I probably walked around with it for two weeks and had no idea,’ Abdullah said. ‘I’m lucky. The doctors said my age probably helped. My wife went into superhero mode. I was out for two weeks and thought it was two hours. It was like somebody just turned out the lights.’
Scott Frank, 51, whose son played on the Cathedral team March 4, fell ill March 11 and tested positive March 20.
Some players fell ill too. Pictured is a March 6 game between North Central and Warren Central
‘The problem with any communal event like a basketball tournament is that you’ve got a clustering of people in close proximity,’ Dr. Cole Beeler, infectious diseases doctor at Indiana University Health, said. Pictured, the Lawrence North Wildcats students go crazy after the game is in hand for their team against the Lawrence Central Bears during IHSAA boys sectional play at Lawrence Central High School on March 4
‘The timeline does fit the window of the sectional, but at that time we thought it was mostly restricted to Washington,’ Frank said.
‘It didn’t even cross my mind in that moment that we could be impacted, even when we heard about that first case on March 6. There was so much energy in the building for those games. It was fantastic. I was looking forward to seeing what Lawrence North could do in the regional.’
The Indianapolis Star reports attendees at that week’s tournament who contracted coronavirus include the parents of a Lawrence North sophomore, a teacher at Hamilton Southeastern, a referee, and a videographer.
Players also displayed symptoms.
‘The problem with any communal event like a basketball tournament is that you’ve got a clustering of people in close proximity,’ Dr. Cole Beeler, infectious diseases doctor at Indiana University Health, told the Indianapolis Star.
‘You’ve got a bunch of people sitting close to each other. The other thing is that people are probably yelling and screaming and cheering on their teams. We know you’re probably kicking out a lot more droplets as you talk and scream than you would if you are just breathing or talking in a normal voice.’
As well as social distancing at six feet apart, the CDC has recommended everyone wear a face covering to conceal the nose and mouth when in public.
CDC: HOW TO SLOW THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD
CDC: WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING?
Also called ‘physical distancing,’ according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) it means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.
It’s recommended as COVID-19 cases can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.
To practice social or physical distancing, the CDC recommends the following:
- Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people even when you wear a face covering
- Avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis
- Use mail-order for medications
- Use grocery delivery service
- Work from home
- Use digital/distance learning