The college football season began in earnest just over two weeks ago, and the doomsday predictions of massive COVID-19-superspreader events triggered by packed stadiums haven’t materialized.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said in early September he doesn’t “think it’s smart” to have tens of thousands of people congregating in stadiums to watch football as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Many progressives parroted his concern, calling images of huge crowds watching football “terrifying.”
This is exactly what I’m talking about. This is terrifying.. https://t.co/djtnbNG6J0
— Julie DiCaro wrote a book (@JulieDiCaro) September 7, 2021
As someone who works at a children’s hospital in a town that hosted 107,000 people in one stadium yesterday, with two littles of my own who are ineligible for vaccination, all I can say is
This isn’t the kind of gesture you think it is. https://t.co/CcRw7VbEuZ
— Shematologist, MD (@acweyand) September 6, 2021
But a review of COVID-19 statistics in the counties and states that hosted some of the biggest games, along with conversations with local health officials, reveals that there’s been little to no linkage between college football and COVID-19 so far this season. (RELATED: ‘It Has Never Hit Harder’: Fans Go Wild For Post-Pandemic College Football.)
The biggest crowd in week one of college football was found in Ann Arbor, Michigan. More than 109,000 fans gathered in the “Big House” to watch the Michigan Wolverines defeat the Western Michigan Broncos. When the game was played on Sept. 4, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Washtenaw county, where Ann Arbor is located, was 81.
More than two weeks later, on Sept. 20, the average is 80. Washtenaw County Health Department Public Information Officer Susan Ringler-Cerniglia told the Daily Caller the department had received one report of a non-student COVID-19 case connected to the football game out of the tens of thousands of non-student attendees.
Ringler-Cerniglia said there were at least 35 student cases that were deemed infectious either at the game or right after, but that “many of these were also associated with additional gatherings/events the same day or days.” Furthermore, 95% of University of Michigan students are fully vaccinated.
In Texas, despite the University of Texas and Texas A&M both hosting games on Sept. 4 that drew nearly 190,000 fans between them, the statewide seven-day average of new cases is currently lower than it was on gameday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cases in Travis County, home of the Longhorns, are down since Austin hosted more than 91,000 fans, and in A&M’s Brazos County, the growth rate of new cases in unchanged.
“Austin Public Health has not identified any meaningful or notable COVID-19 virus transmission related to attendance to the football games,” a city Public Information Officer told the Daily Caller.
In Blacksburg, Virginia, the Virginia Tech Hokies hosted more than 65,000 fans on Friday night, Sept. 3 for a season-opening win against North Carolina. The growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County, Virginia, has slowed since the game took place.
“New River Health District Epidemiologist Jason Deese indicated there was no significant change in cases in the area related to attending football games,” Virginia Department of Health Public Information Officer Robert Parker told the Daily Caller.
The trend can be found across the whole country. Knoxville, Tennessee; Atlanta; Gainesville, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida and Auburn, Alabama, all hosted games on week one with at least 68,000 fans in attendance. In each of those local jurisdictions, COVID-19 cases have either declined since the opening college football weekend, or are increasing at a slower rate than before. (RELATED: Fauci Flips On Boosters, Now Says It’s Not A ‘Mistake’ For FDA To Limit Recommendations)
There’s also no clear trend between restrictions in place at certain stadiums and whether they seem to be a COVID-19 superspreader. Stadiums across the country have implemented varying rules regarding vaccination requirements to attend games, negative COVID-19 tests having to be shown or mask requirements in certain parts of the facility.
Nearly all of the games have been played outdoors though, where instances of COVID-19 spread are almost nonexistent.