The coronavirus has hit Tampa, the host city for WWE’s WrestleMania 36.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order over the weekend, directing the surgeon general of the state to declare a public health emergency after two people tested “presumptively positive” for the virus in the Tampa Bay area, according to WTSP.
The two people in Florida, one from Manatee County and one from Hillsborough County, are isolated and receiving medical attention. These first two cases in Florida come after other cases have been confirmed in Washington, New York, and other states.
There’s no word yet on how the executive order might impact WrestleMania 36 Week in Tampa, which is scheduled for the first week of April. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) warned Americans last week that they should prepare for the virus.
As we noted last week at this link, TampaBay.com spoke with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President of Special Events John Saboor about the coronavirus while at a WrestleMania 36 Luncheon at Raymond James Stadium last week. They were asked if WWE is ready for the coronavirus.
“The health and safety of not only our fan base, but also our superstars, really does come first,” Stephanie said. “We don’t want to put anyone in a bad situation ever, regardless of the circumstance. Those are not risks worth taking.”
Saboor confirmed that WWE was monitoring the virus, and discussing potential plans.
“Given the number of live events that (WWE) does, it’s constantly monitoring global events,” Saboor said. “There are active and ongoing discussions at play internally, like there are in any sector of American business, and certainly families as a whole. So I think those will continue.”
Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, said his group was working with the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority and the Tampa International Airport to ensure the safety of fans in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 36 Week.
“You’ve got to be nimble, and you’ve got to be ready,” Higgins said. “Thirty-six days is a long time, so it’s hard to predict. I think we just continue to information gather as much as possible, so that we are as prepared as possible.”
Stephanie added to that, “And if necessary, enact those measures.”
Saboor said WWE is focusing on “refining the blueprint to welcome the world to Tampa Bay.” He added, “We’re spending a lot of time in the last 36 days messaging fans who are coming, talking about the attributes of not only what WrestleMania week has to offer, but what Tampa Bay as a destination has to offer.”