Expect big changes at local sporting events

    At least two area high schools have announced major changes in how they will be handling crowds at sporting events this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The bottom line is: if you don’t have a kid participating, you might just want to plan to stay at home and read about your favorite team in your favorite newspaper.

    Cuba High School has announced limited attendance for both football and volleyball. Home football games will be capped at 50 percent attendance, while volleyball attendance will be limited to just 33 percent capacity.
    For football, that means there will be a maximum of 750 spectators. While that sound like a lot, there will be 100 tickets saved for visiting fans and 450 given to players and band and drill team members. That leaves just 200 general admission tickets.
    For volleyball, those numbers get even smaller, with just 175 general admission tickets available after tickets are distributed to visiting fans and players.
    St. James, meanwhile, has announced it will be following attendance guidelines established by the Four-Rivers Conference. That will include 50 percent attendance capacity for volleyball and football. And for softball and cross country the requirements get even more strict, with attendance recommended for family members only.
    Of course, all these plans are subject to change depending on local health recommendations. And, these plans were announced before both Crawford and Phelps counties announced both announced their first two COVID-19 related deaths this week.
    If you haven’t been staying informed about the current state of the pandemic in our communities, be aware that the virus is continuing to spread at a rate that is higher than health officials would like to see. Two-week infection rates have been well above what is considered low—about 100 per 100,000 residents. In Crawford County, the rate stands at 232 over the past two weeks, while in Phelps County it is at about 120.
     Positive test results also remain high in Crawford County. Over the past two weeks approximately 13 percent of people who took tests were positive. In order to ensure enough testing is being done, health officials would like that rate to be about 10 percent, which means the virus is probably more widespread in the area than test results are showing.
    What does that mean for attending local sporting events? Keep in mind that it will be risky, take all the necessary and recommended precautions (maintain social distancing and wear a mask), and reflect seriously on whether you should attend.
    As with much of our everyday lives now, we must all weigh our needs versus our wants. You may want to attend a football or volleyball game, but do you need to attend? If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn’t attend.
    Remember, the more people who attend, the more chance there is of spreading the virus. We’ve already seen local deaths from COVID-19 and we will undoubtedly see more. Staying home if you don’t need to attend a game is a great way to show your support for the players and their families as it may help guarantee they will be able to finish a season that might otherwise be cut short by an outbreak and a quarantine.
    And also remember, we’ll be covering the games and you can read all about them every week.