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Columbus Crew announce March 14 match vs. Real Salt Lake will be played despite coronavirus spread

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The Columbus Crew have announced that their home match Saturday against Real Salt Lake will go on as planned despite the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

"Columbus Crew SC, along with Major League Soccer and its other member clubs, have been closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will continue to do so. Major League Soccer's task force has been regularly communicating with MLS clubs regarding appropriate measures to take as the situation continues to evolve," the team said in a statement.

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"The health and safety of the players, staff and supporters are of utmost importance. Crew SC and MAPFRE Stadium, through their dedicated task force, will continue to work with relevant governmental agencies and Major League Soccer to monitor the situation and react as necessary throughout the week."

The announcement comes as leagues throughout Europe have taken measures to avoid the spread of the virus, with Italy, which has been particularly hard-hit, suspending all sport as part of a nationwide lockdown.

MLS released a joint statement along with the NBA, NHL and MLB on Monday stating that it was closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all nonessential personnel as preventive measure.

At fifth place in the East, the Crew have four points from their first two games of the season. Real Salt Lake sit ninth in the West with two points.

Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the globe in recent months. The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for coronavirus, though researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk.

The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces. The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.