I’m sure most of you are watching the pandemic numbers as carefully as I am. They’ve been a mixed bag of late. The trend in states where restrictions have been relaxed are troubling and I don’t expect the protests to help much.
What does that mean for college football? Honestly, we don’t know yet, but I’ll just put this out there for your consumption:
We spoke to the following four public health experts, asking them to assess the risk various activities pose to spreading coronavirus.
- Dr. Matthew Sims, Beaumont Health director of infectious disease research
- Dr. Dennis Cunningham, McLaren Health Care medical director for infection prevention
- Dr. Mimi Emig, retired infectious disease specialist with Spectrum Health
- Dr. Nasir Husain, Henry Ford Macomb medical director for infection prevention
The doctors pointed to five factors, when considering how risky a given activity might be: Whether it’s inside or outside; proximity to others; exposure time; likelihood of compliance; and personal risk level.
Outdoor activities are generally safer, they said, because the virus becomes less concentrated outside and doesn’t get recirculated around like it could indoors.
Activities that prevent social distancing – like playing basketball or packing in at a music concert – are also riskier.
The experts also point to exposure time as a factor.
They graded various settings on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the riskiest. Here’s what they said about you know what:
Risk level: 8
Just like concerts, sports stadiums have crowding and alcohol. People are also likely to cheer, yell and sing, among other noises, which also makes the spread easier.
The only places riskier are bars. Alcohol, for the win… fortunately, nobody drinks at a tailgate.
There is this, for consolation.
The doctors emphasized that if everybody takes precautions, the risk level for each activity is dramatically reduced, they said.
I’m sure everyone will wear their masks for four hours straight in the September sun. No worries!
UPDATE: I don’t know why some of you are so insistent about arguing with me about this, but just to reiterate, all I’ve said from the beginning is that we don’t know enough about COVID-19 to draw major conclusions about what is safe and what is not, which means those making public policy decisions should be cautious about the consequences.
I am not someone who makes public policy decisions, in case you didn’t realize that. Therefore, trying to convince me that we can be less cautious is a waste of bandwidth.
Instead of delivering your keen expertise my way, perhaps you should send Morehead and McGarity your wisdom, so that they can do away with their planning for the season.
Right now, UGA is looking at three options regarding fan attendance.
Option I: In this scenario, patrons will not be allowed to be in attendance at any of our athletic events. Events would take place with only essential staffing (game officials, management, etc.).
Option II: In this scenario, there will be limited attendance with mandatory social distancing. Our policies would align with state guidelines for live performance venues. We have designated seating throughout all our athletic facilities to mandate where patrons can sit while still maintaining their 6’ distance. We will install decals on flooring to ensure 6’ spacing in all lines (ingress, concessions, restrooms, etc.). We will also attempt to eliminate potential congregation elements such as misting tents and water refill stations. We will move to cashless operations in all areas while additionally removing touchpoints where possible (parking, ticketing, concessions, etc.). Our concession workers will be mandated to wear gloves and masks.
Option III: In this scenario, social distancing practices are relaxed and there are no restrictions on attendance. This eliminates the need for reduced seating configurations and maintaining social distancing in all lines. Our focus will shift to other best practices for mitigation. We will eliminate potential congregation elements. We will still move to cashless operations and reducing touchpoints where possible.