University of Maine men's head coach Richard Barron speaks to an official during a December 2019 basketball game against Connecticut. Barron and Black Bears women's basketball coach Amy Vachon are participating on "Team New England," a group of Division I coaches who are promoting COVID-19 safety precautions using their social media platforms. Credit: Jessica Hill | AP

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University of Maine basketball coaches Richard Barron and Amy Vachon are among 45 coaches at the 23 Division I schools who have formed “Team New England.” They plan to use their social media platforms to remind followers of the public health guidelines implemented to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Headlining the group is University of Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma and Harvard University men’s coach Tommy Amaker. The aim is to capitalize on the influence basketball coaches have at their schools and in their communities.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

“We felt like there might be some people we could reach who would hear the guidelines either for the first time or in a way that would encourage compliance,” said Barron, who recently completed his second season with the UMaine men’s program. “And we also wanted to say thank you publicly to those who are on the front lines.”

The Team New England venture was inspired by Team New York, a group of that state’s Division I men’s and women’s basketball coaches who are sharing COVID-19 information with their followers.

Andy Borman, the executive director of RENS, a nonprofit sports-based youth development organization in New York, and Syracuse University men’s graduate assistant basketball coach Ben Horwitz teamed up to form Team New York.

“I saw the amazing movement online from the New York coaches and was immediately motivated to do our part in New England,” Brown University men’s basketball coach Mike Martin said.

“We’re in a unique position to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and it’s our duty to do our part and help bring our communities together.”

In his Twitter message, Barron said, “Beating this pandemic is a team sport. Thanks to our front-line workers out there pushing through. Let’s all do our part and say home, pay attention to social distancing guidelines and stay safe.”

“Along with all the other coaches in New England, we want to reach out to our fans and let you know we’re thinking about you,” Vachon said in a video message on Twitter.

“I know this is a really, really hard time right now and some days are a lot tougher than others. But we’re going to get through this.

“I want to thank all of you in the medical profession. You are rock stars and heroes, saving lives and risking yours. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you,” she said.

Vachon also thanked Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who does daily online briefings for citizens.

“I watch you everyday and you give me hope. Thanks for representing Maine so well.”

Vachon concluded by saying that people have to work to flatten the curve by staying inside and staying safe and by practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings when in public.

“We’re going to get through this and we will be stronger. I can’t wait to see you all on the other side, better than ever,” Vachon said.

Watch: 6 ways you can prevent COVID-19

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