With the delta variant, is it safe to attend a football game?
Fall events such as football games, festivals and fairs are making a comeback this year, but is now the right time to attend a crowded event, even if it’s outdoors? Infectious disease expert Helmut Albrecht, MD, shared his advice.
“The guidance by the CDC has changed with the emergence of the delta variant, which is several times more spreadable than other variants,” Dr. Albrecht said. “If you’re vaccinated, most outdoor events are probably still acceptable for you to attempt. For an unvaccinated person, the risk is so high that most activities are probably not safe because delta is so widespread. That includes outdoor events with large gatherings, as well as indoor dining.”
If you are vaccinated, Dr. Albrecht said it’s important to assess your own risk by asking yourself these questions:
- What is your age?
- Do you have any health conditions?
- Do you live with or are you gathering with anyone who would be considered at higher risk for serious illness?
“You’ve got to evaluate your own situation and assess where you are personally,” he said. “If you’re outdoors and you’re shoulder to shoulder with a group of people, the delta variant can spread to you, and you can spread it to other people.”
He said it’s important to wear a mask in these situations.
Is it okay for children under 12 to attend outdoor events, like football games or fairs?
Dr. Albrecht said a crowded event where there’s yelling and cheering has a significant risk. “The number of infections in school aged children is incredible. It’s extremely concerning and has led to hospital admissions and deaths. If you can’t control the situation, it’s probably not safe, even outdoors.”
How can we keep student athletes safe from COVID-19?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have both issued guidance to help coaches, athletic departments and parents protect student athletes as well as the community. They include:
- Making sure everyone is masking and using good hand hygiene.
- Appropriately isolating students who are infected and quarantining those who have been exposed.
- Doing your part to ensure successful contact investigations.
“If someone in your family has been exposed to the virus, get tested,” Dr. Albrecht said. “Don’t avoid getting tested so you don’t have to quarantine and miss the game, or school, or work. The trauma of somebody dying because you brought the virus into your household, classroom or gathering will be much higher.”
Getting tested also allows you to seek care that can keep you out of the hospital, such as monoclonal antibody treatment, which is approved for people 12 and older.
Dr. Albrecht said the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get vaccinated.
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