UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - UPDATE, 10:50 p.m.: Representatives for the Iditarod Trail Committee said late Friday that race personnel are working with State of Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, "in order to ensure we are deploying best preventative practices including pre-flight screenings for staff and hyper diligence with regard to personal hygiene and disinfecting of surfaces."
The Iditarod has also reportedly removed all non-essential staff and limited its team primarily to veterinarians, logistics, communications coordinators and necessary dog handlers.
In the emailed statement, the Iditarod said it is "humbled by the passion and social energy of Iditarod nation," but explicitly encourages people to not travel to Nome for the finish, "asking you to not make any nonessential travel to the Nome finish, in particular, those who are traveling from outside of Alaska."
Racers are expected to be in Nome early next week.
ORIGINAL STORY: Mushers and dog teams competing in the 48th running of the Iditarod will bypass the Shaktoolik checkpoint over concerns about the new coronavirus, the public relations firm for the race said Friday.
An emailed statement from the group, which represents the Iditarod, said that, "in consultation with the community of Shaktoolik and in the continued interest of public health, the Iditarod is moving its official checkpoint to outside the community of Shaktoolik."
Shaktoolik is the 19th checkpoint along the northern route of the Iditarod trail.
The release stated that mushers would still be provided with their food drop bags, straw for bedding and the product, HEET, which helps teams stay fed with hot meals along the trail.
A Facebook post from the Native Village of Shaktoolik also advised residents to avoid Iditarod sites, stating in part that, "in light of the potential for massive spread... prevention is key. This is in support by our Native Village of Shaktoolik."
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