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Health Director: People At High Risk For COVID-19 Should Watch College Football From Home

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The director of the New River Health District says fans should consider wearing masks in the stands at Friday's Virginia Tech football game. And Dr. Noelle Bissell says people who are at high risk for complications from COVID-19 should watch the game from home.

Virginia Tech opens the season Friday evening and UVA's first game of the season is Saturday night. Both stadiums will be open at 100% capacity and Virginia Tech's game is sold out. Virginia Tech will require masks in all indoor common areas, like restrooms and hallways, but not in the stands. UVA has a similar policy for indoor spaces. Masks are still required on public transportation, including game day shuttle buses.

"In most cases, I don’t think masks outside are really necessary," Bissell said during a weekly news conference. "But in certain situations, I don’t know how many tens of thousands of people are going to be in that stadium and they’re going to be yelling and screaming and cheering, that’s a situation where it would probably benefit to have people who can put on masks."

Bissell says it's helpful that the games are outdoors and that most students, faculty and staff are vaccinated. She's hopeful that most non-university attendees will also be vaccinated.

People who have a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 should consider their risk, Bissell says. "If you are high risk, then you probably want to watch it on TV. This is one of those where you really have to gauge the situation because there are going to be a lot of crowds there."

The New River Health District plans to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at Lane Stadium Friday night. District employees will also be handing out masks.

The pace of new COVID-19 infections dipped in the most recent reporting week, according to data presented by Bissell. Hospitalizations have remained high, with 42 district residents hospitalized Monday for complications related to COVID-19. Bissell warned that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator and will not go down as quickly as overall cases. Less than half of the district's total population has been fully vaccinated.

Updated: August 30, 2021 at 1:10 PM EDT
Radio IQ is a service of Virginia Tech.