INDIANAPOLIS (WISH-TV) — Marion County’s public health director on Friday said the best way to keep upcoming football and basketball games on schedule is to get a COVID-19 shot.
Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts game will be the only NFL matchup the day after league officials moved three games because of COVID-19 outbreaks: Las Vegas at Cleveland from Saturday to Monday; and Seattle at the Los Angeles Rams and Washington at Philadelphia from Sunday to Tuesday.
Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard shows hospitalizations due to the disease are close to last December’s record of 3,441. But, Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Department of Public Health, said the overall case rate is about half that of a year ago, so she’s not ready to impose a mask mandate just yet.
“We are recommending, though, that fans who attend (Saturday’s) game please consider masking regardless of your vaccination status and whether you’ve gotten your booster shot, just because of the possibility of breakthrough infections,” she said.
The NFL is not the only sports league to postpone games due to COVID cases.
Just hours before Friday afternoon’s Browns-Raiders decision, the NHL announced all games for the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers had been postponed through Dec. 25. By Friday night, a total of 20 NHL games were postponed, the majority of which have come in recent days, and roughly 10% of the 700-plus players are currently in the league’s virus protocol.
Caine said Friday it was too late to change any health rules for Saturday’s Colts game, which organizers expect will have a sold-out crowd of about 60,000. Instead, she said, Hoosiers should focus on doing their part to ensure COVID cases don’t interfere with the Jan. 2 Colts game or with the College Football Playoff championship on Jan. 10. Volunteers on Thursday began preparing for the three-day football event.
She said the best way for Hoosiers to do their part is to get a COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t already, or get a booster shot if they haven’t already.
Thousands of college basketball fans will be in town Saturday as well for the Crossroads Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Danny Lopez, vice president of corporate communications for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said officials are following the guidelines of county and state health officials. Staff are required to wear masks and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Fans are not required to mask up but are strongly encouraged to do so regardless of vaccination status. Lopez said any further rules are up to an individual event’s sponsor, or the participating schools in the case of the Crossroads Classic.