Concern on Stadiums: 'There Will Be Many Infected People There'

Health experts worry that college and pro football arenas offer prime conditions for further spread
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2021 8:45 AM CDT
Football Season Is Here. Health Experts Are Worried
Florida State fans, almost none of whom were complying with the mandatory mask mandate, are seen at an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame on Sunday in Tallahassee, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

(Newser) – Health experts say this fall's crowded college and professional football stadiums could create ripe conditions for COVID-19 to spread among unvaccinated fans. Many football stadiums—most of which hold from 65,000 to 100,000 fans—aren't requiring fans to wear masks or be vaccinated. The chances of a fan being exposed will depend on where the stadium is and whether the game is outdoors, among other factors, per the AP.

"At any sort of large event like at a football stadium, without question there will be many infected people there," says Ryan Demmer, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The NFL doesn't have a blanket policy for masks or vaccination status for fans. That creates a patchwork of guidelines developed by each of the 32 teams. The Las Vegas Raiders requires proof of vaccination for all fans 12 and over. The New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks require that fans show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Experts say the single biggest way to manage the risk before attending a game is to get fully vaccinated. Wearing masks and using hand sanitizer at the game is also a good idea, says Dr. Sharon Wright, chief infection prevention officer at Beth Israel Lahey Health in Boston. The highly contagious delta variant has triggered a summer surge in infections. The seven-day rolling average for daily cases in the US sits at about 150,000 after starting September above 167,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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