PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – As tens of thousands of people from across the globe flood into TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship, coronavirus is top of mind, but not a major concern.
“I think it is a little overblown,” said Wade Thies, who traveled from Maryland for the tournament. “I mean, the flu kills people, too.”
Tournament play begins on Thursday, but fans began showing up Tuesday to see their favorite players during practice rounds and were gathering for the Military Appreciation concert featuring the Chainsmokers.
Jared Rice, executive director of the tournament, told News4Jax earlier that additional measures are in place both for players and fans attending.
The PGA Tour put 30 hand sanitizer stations throughout the course to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable. There are 120 dispensers in all and announced that fans are welcome to bring their own.
“We have communication with best ways to have healthy hands and making sure we’re cleaning the right way," Rice said. “We’re going to be taking those additional steps and working with vendors to make sure that we’re taking all precautions and going the extra mile for cleanliness.”
Jacksonville resident Lisa Ellen Dirnberger said, a former nurse agreed.
“You’ve just got to wash your hands,” Dirnberger said. “I used to be a registered nurse and handwashing is No. 1. And as long as we all do that, there will be no disease.”
The sanitizing stations are located in areas with the most people will congregate, so there are a few of them around the iconic 17th Island Green.
Fans should expect that players might limit their exposure to crowds by skipping the usual autograph opportunities and people who work on the VIP concierge team at the tournament were encouraged to minimize physical contact with guests without being discourteous.
“We’re going to limit our handshaking. If we don’t have to interact closely with a customer, then we won’t,” said Mitch Gallo, a Jacksonville University graduate student who is spending his second year on the team."
“(An alternative to a handshake could be) a courteous head nod. If they want to go in for a handshake, maybe say, ‘Out of your health and respect, we just want to make sure everything is maintained.'"
When it comes to large events like this, health officials are reminding people to just make sure you are washing your hands with both soap and water. If you do cough or sneeze, cover your mouth. And if you don’t feel well, it’s best to stay home.