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Hotel in Pikesville cancels reservation of Yeshiva basketball team over coronavirus fears, coach says

A hotel in a Baltimore suburb on Thursday canceled the reservation of the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team over fears of the novel coronavirus, the coach of the Maccabees told The Associated Press.

Coach Elliot Steinmetz said the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Pikesville canceled the reservation, forcing the team to book rooms at a different hotel. A student at the Orthodox Jewish university has tested positive for the virus.

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“I made it very clear to the hotel that it's discrimination,” Steinmetz said. “I basically said to them: `Do you have a checkbox on your website that says that you've been in an area with suspected coronavirus?' And they said no. So I said: `Is it just for the guests of Yeshiva University?' And they said yes. I told them that that's called discrimination.”

Hilton spokeswoman Laura Ford said the hotel in Pikesville is an independently owned and operated property. Hotel management did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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The team is scheduled to play Worcester Polytechnic Institute Friday in the first round of the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at Johns Hopkins. The winner would advance to play the winner of the later Friday game between Johns Hopkins and Penn State Harrisburg on Saturday in Baltimore.

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams told the AP on Thursday afternoon that the games were set to be played as scheduled. Johns Hopkins athletic department spokeswoman Jill Guise also said no plans had changed for Friday’s games.

But Maryland health officials on Thursday night confirmed the state’s first three cases of the coronavirus.

And late Thursday night Hopkins officials announced that they had decided to ban fans from attending the first and second rounds.

“In light of Maryland’s recently confirmed cases of COVID-19, and based on CDC guidance for large gatherings, we have determined that it is prudent to hold this tournament without spectators,” the university announced. “We are not making any determination about other JHU events at this time; while we await further guidance from public health authorities, we will be assessing large events on a case-by-case basis. We regret any inconvenience to the families and fans of the players.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the wife, two children and a neighbor of a New York lawyer who is hospitalized in critical condition with COVID-19 have also tested positive for the disease. One of the lawyer's children is a student at Yeshiva University.

The family and the neighbor have been self-quarantined at home.

The institution has canceled classes at its upper Manhattan campus.

Josh Joseph, the university's senior vice president, said the infected student is not a member of the basketball team, has not participated in any team events and has not been on campus since Feb. 27. He added that the New York City Department of Health has “cleared” the team to participate in the tournament.

The best team in the school’s history won the Skyline Conference title on Sunday, its second conference championship in three years, to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament. The Maccabees have won 27 straight games.

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