Alabama health experts urge caution as college football fans return to packed stadiums

Coronavirus
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WIAT) — As college football fans return back to the stadium for the first time this season, health experts are encouraging the public to practice good judgment in the wake of another COVID-19 surge in Alabama.

Tuskegee University recently became one of the first schools in Alabama to limit fans in the stands this season because of the growing cases and concern of COVID-19. On Wednesday, President Charlotte Morris announced that only students, faculty, staff, and a limited number of away fans will be allowed inside for the rest of the season, including their homecoming game. She also announced other restrictions such as virtual alumni events going forward.

At the moment, schools like the University of Alabama aren’t limiting how many fans are in the stands for Saturday’s home opener against Mercer. BrunoEvent CEO Gene Hallman said while they are excited to see fans again, they are also nervous the virus can spread.

“I think anyone who is in the event business right now is somewhat edgy or nervous,” Hallman said.

Over Labor Day weekend, millions tuned in to the sights and sounds of college football.

“The passion. The energy. It just feeds upon itself and there is no substitute for that,” Hallman said.

But many medical experts were on the edge of their seats after seeing packed stadiums.

“People packed shoulder to shoulder in football stadiums not wearing masks,” said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“That we are still in a very significant surge with this Delta variant,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. David Hicks said.

Hallman said event organizers across the country continue to monitor the state of the virus to make sure no game or concert will be a super spreader event.

“Every event planner and organizer in this country regardless of the sport is watching the public health statistics and talking to the public health officials constantly,” Hallman said.

As for Alabama’s opening home game on Saturday, Hallman believes fans will have good judgement in order for a safe and fun environment.

“Hopefully most will be vaccinated and those who aren’t are taking the proper precautions to keep themselves safe,” Hallman said.

Hallman and many others hope the fans can stay in the stands throughout the season. He hopes more people get vaccinated not just for their own safety, but because players deserve to have packed stadiums again.

“But it’s also to the fans please get vaccinated. Let’s keep the stands and stadiums full. We love these crowds,” Hallman said.

Alabama takes on Mercer at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday at 3 p.m.

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