LA Marathon prepares for coronavirus

On Sunday, about 27,000 runners from 78 countries will flood the streets from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica for the LA Marathon, making social-distancing difficult.

“When you’re in these big crowds, there’s no way to stay more than six feet away from other people,” said Santa Monica Urgent Care Dr. Nathan Newman. “You’re going to be exposed to the respiratory droplets of infected people. And you’ve got to be really careful.”

Marathon organizers sent out an email to all participants, letting them know they will have increased sanitation stations throughout the route and urging people to use them.

Dr. Newman says more than half of his patients with respiratory problems come in concerned they have coronavirus. He says those 70 and older with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, are most at risk in crowds, but anyone could spread it.

“I’d worry more if I were at the finish line,” says Dr. Newman. “Those crowds at the end of the marathon. They’re huge. There are going to be a lot of people who are packed in. Respiratory droplets are going to be everywhere. It’s a little scary.”

“When the race is over, they give you all kinds of goodies, all kinds of things to eat. One thing I will do is pay strict attention to keeping my hands clean, keeping my hands out of face, keeping my hands out of my eyes,” said marathon runner Yancy Berry. “But I am going to go out and run. I’m going to go out and live my life and I’m going to have a great day.”

Like many marathon athletes, Berry is running for a cause. He raised $5,000 to participate in the LA Marathon for “Empower Her,” a non-profit that helps girls who lose their mothers at a young age. 

“We’re really cheering on this cause and we are very hopeful that our runners will continue to keep their head high and wash their hands and not let coronavirus take away from all the positivity,” said Empower Her LA Founder Ann Marie Leitao.

With so many upcoming social events in the congested City of Angels, sanitize and stay home if feeling ill.

“The good news is it may die down a little bit as the weather warms up. These coronaviruses, other ones, tend to not live as well in warm weather,” said Dr. Newman.

People flying in for the LA Marathon will be screened at the airport and if they show symptoms, they will be quarantined and not allowed to race.

Marathon officials have deferred entries for all runners who live in countries deemed high-risk for coronavirus, including China, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Iran, which is only about 0.06% of total race participants.