Full stadiums could cause spikes in COVID-19 cases this fall

Most of the people at the game were not wearing face coverings. No vaccination certificate was required to enter, although Mr Biden had asked sports organizations to demand it.

Several other teams have recently taken similar, non-restrictive measures in the United States, raising concerns among public health experts. The latter, in particular, fear that these major sporting events are fueling the spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated supporters.

Here’s an overview of the risks associated with presenting sporting events to packed houses.

What are the real risks in a stadium?

It is difficult to predict how many cases of COVID-19 will be reported as a result of any given event. Several factors come into play, including the number of active cases in the region and at the time of competition, as well as vaccination coverage.

The Delta variant has also come to change the situation. It caused a spike in infections this summer that only recently started to decline south of the border. According to Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the United States is around 150,000, up from more than 167,000 in early September.

The last Super Bowl, presented in Tampa Bay, allowed 22,000 people to attend the game, subject to certain health regulations.

Photo: Getty Images/Patrick Smith

With these numbers it is almost certainly that at a gathering of several thousand people there will be at least one infected person, epidemiologist Ryan Demmer said.

At any large-scale event, such as a football match, there will undoubtedly be many infected peopleargued Mr. Demmer of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

Are open air stadiums completely safe?

No, although they are considered safer than closed amphitheatres, as the open air reduces the risk of aerosol transmission.

Yet he is very likely Fans who have not been vaccinated and do not wear a mask can contract the virus if they sit next to an infectious person for about three hours, Demmer said.

In the NFL, most stadiums are open to the sky. Some of them can accommodate 60,000 or more supporters.

How can fans protect themselves?

The most important measure is to get properly vaccinated with one or two doses, depending on the vaccine manufacturer’s guidelines. Experts point out that vaccines do not eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19, but they do significantly reduce it, in addition to providing effective protection against the risk of developing a serious case requiring hospitalization.

The Delta variant is so much more contagious that groups of unvaccinated people are at great risk.

A quote from dr. Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center

The chief of infection control at Beth Israel Lahey Health in Boston, Dr. Sharon Wright, also reiterated the importance of wearing a mask. She acknowledged that they are not perfect, but they do offer some protection. They also prevent people from touching their faces.

People touch a lot of things in sports stadiumsshe noted.

Once supporters have reached their headquarters, they should try to stay there as much as possible to minimize contact with infected people, Demmer added.

Don’t walk through the stadium for nothinghe warned. Try not to queue.

The epidemiologist said there was no doubt that crowded stadiums would lead to more infections this fall. We can’t live for the next 5 or 10 years without big gatheringshe added.

I wish everyone was vaccinated so we can move forward once and for allDemmer concluded.

And in Canada?

The rules are stricter than in the United States. For Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer games, stadium capacity restrictions are still in effect.

In addition, in Quebec, the vaccine passport is now required to attend major events, including professional sports competitions.

That didn’t stop the Ottawa Senators from saying on Friday that they expect to sell their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 14.

However, spectators will need to follow several health guidelines to access the Canadian Tire Center’s grandstands, whose capacity in hockey configuration is estimated at 19,153 seats.

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