Raleigh, N.C. — There are times when an international news story hits so close to home that one sentence can almost make your head spin, and the next sentence is one of them.
Carolina Hurricanes broadcaster John Forslund is self-quarantined in his basement in Apex after staying in the same Detroit hotel room as Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player to test positive for the novel coronavirus.
All politics really is local.
“It’s serious,” Forslund said Friday morning. “We’ve got to listen to what we’re supposed to do. And act accordingly. You know me. I can be as sarcastic as anybody. Initially, we were all kind of in the same boat. And now look where we are. It’s a serious thing. You just hope and pray everybody’s going to be OK. What I’m going through is no big deal, because there are people who are going to have complications.”
Forslund isn’t the only one. Team videographer Zack Brame, who stayed in one of three rooms the CDC identified for possible exposure after the Jazz moved out of the Detroit Westin Book Cadillac on Saturday and the Hurricanes moved in on Sunday. (The third room was not occupied by the team.)
“Before we even let them on our plane, we checked with our medical people,” Hurricanes president Don Waddell said Friday. “There’s such a low possibility it could be transmitted through the hotel room, but the recommendation from our medical team was that they should fly back with us and then self-quarantine for two weeks.”
In a whirlwind 48 hours for the sports world, Forslund now finds himself at the epicenter of it.
Forslund was sitting on one of the team buses just after 2 p.m. Thursday as the Hurricanes prepared to come home from New Jersey after the suspension of the NHL season when Hurricanes vice president Mike Sundheim, who manages the team’s travel, came aboard and asked the other passenger to exit. Sundheim told him that the Jazz had stayed at the hotel before their game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, and the Hurricanes checked in about 8 p.m. Sunday.
After Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 disease Wednesday night, the hotel told Sundheim that Forslund and Brame had potentially been exposed as well. The two were isolated at the front of the team plane on the flight home from Newark on Thursday — “That felt like a cross-country flight,” Forslund said — and briefed by team physician Josh Bloom on what comes next.
Upon arriving home, Forslund moved into the basement of his home for the next 10 days, where he will wait to see if he develops symptoms — but only then would he be tested.
“I can’t get tested, that’s the thing,” Forslund said. “I’m like everybody else. That’s the problem right now, as a country.”
So Forslund’s wife Natalie is leaving his meals at the basement door. One of his daughters is staying with neighbors. Another is still at Clemson, where she’s a graduate student and has teaching responsibilities. His son is on his way home from college in Pennsylvania after all of his classes were moved online. He’s fortunate to have able family to support him and space to quarantine.
But Forslund is also not sure what he’s going to do for the next 10 days.
“It’s different. It’s a long time,” Forslund said. “Today it doesn’t seem like much. As the days march on here, you’re just hoping nothing happens. That’s different. Every time I sneeze or I cough, you wonder, ‘Where’s this going?’
“I’ll go as day by day as I can. I can’t do much. There’s nothing professionally for me to stay connected with. I’m not a big TV guy. In the season, I honestly just watch hockey and pay attention to the news. That’s all I do. I’m not a binge-watcher. Not a big movie guy. I don’t want to think about what to do because there isn’t much to do.”