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Opinion Hope you’re enjoying March Madness here in Indianapolis. Could you move that mask up?

An usher holds a sign reminding fans to wear masks during a college basketball game between Houston and Rutgers in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Sarah Layden is the author of the novel “Trip Through Your Wires.”

We, the Indianapolis Welcoming Committee, are thrilled you’re here, one year into a deadly pandemic, for this incredibly complex college basketball event featuring 68 men’s teams in a “bubble” of gymnasiums, charter buses, hotels and skywalks. We give a warm Hoosier welcome to the players’ families and … thousands of other fans, too? Oh. We’re sure it’s fine. Really.

Or, maybe not really. The NCAA canceled the Saturday night game between the University of Oregon and Virginia Commonwealth University, declaring the Ducks vs. Rams faceoff “a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols.” Oregon advanced to the second round and VCU was banished.

Still, teamwork makes the dream work, and a bazillion hard-working people have tirelessly planned to make the tournament as safe as possible. Mask strings crossed! The six arenas at limited capacity might keep covid transmission rates low. Maybe even lower than b-ball fans’ spirits were last year when the NCAA tournament in Atlanta was canceled — but, wait, the U.S. infection rate now is higher, a lot higher, than this time a year ago, when they pulled the plug. How does that work?

Anyhoo! The 2021 Big Dance must go on. So players and coaches are safely ensconced in their pods, far from the March Maddening crowd. Except when venturing out for games. Unless the game is canceled and one team is sent home.

Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

Did you know that Indianapolis is called “the Circle City”? Which kind of fits our pro-con circular thoughts about this event taking place here in our “big small town” that we are awfully glad to welcome you to.

Usually the phrase “Hoosier Hysteria” is reserved for how crazy we get for the annual state high school basketball tournament, but it works now for the college games too. Namely, abject terror about possibly becoming a coronavirus hot spot. Now we’re hoopin’.

Please accept this gift of hand sanitizer. Welcome! Did we say that already? Could you apply the sanitizer now, if it’s not too much trouble?

Indianapolis is a vibrant community, home to wonderful artists, athletes, scientists, bracketologists, accountants and thousands of incredibly hardworking and painfully vulnerable hospitality workers.

By the way, did you know scenes from the movie “Hoosiers” were filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse?

Our hurting city loves the basketball fans who plan to spend their stimulus checks in Naptown. Simultaneously, many Indy residents will avoid our beloved basketball venues like the … coronavirus, and wish the tournament had provided hazmat suits for fans. A missed branding opportunity, but oh well. Hindsight, as they say, is 2020.

If you do go out on the town sometime during the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight or Final Four or Covid Couple, be sure to check out the bars and restaurants of Fountain Square or Broad Ripple. The Indianapolis Star reported over the weekend that more than 2,000 “mostly young adults” at an outdoor watch party crowded between two giant video screens near Mass Ave. The crowd size, the Star said, was estimated by an “uneasy security guard.” On second thought, maybe order takeout and hit the hotel room minibar.

Please do not cough on our Uber drivers. Thanks so much.

Show of hands! Who’s vaccinated? You are? Swish! Nothing but net!

Anybody else? How about the gentleman with the mask below his nose? Talking with the guy who’s pulling his mask all the way down when he replies? Never mind.

Look, forget about spending your money here. Go to a park, any park. We’ve got a ton. Wear a mask. Grab a complimentary Clorox wipe travel pack. The ones with basketball stickers on the label for added MM flair.

Would you like a sugar cream pie? It’s a local delicacy. Shrink-wrapped.

Hey, guys, we know you just got here, but if we don’t see you before this thing winds up on April 5, safe travels. On the way to the airport, check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indy 500. It’s being used as a mass vaccination site.

Read more:

Joseph G. Allen: Don’t let covid-19 keep kids from playing sports

The Post’s View: If you want a normal summer, keep your mask on and guard up

Ashish K. Jha: Virus variants mean our covid winter isn’t over. Don’t ease restrictions now.

Jessica Cohen and Joseph G. Allen: How to make sure people still get tested, even as the risk of covid-19 falls

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will likely knock out monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs that can be used as a treatment or to protect immunocompromised people.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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