Alabama high schools limiting fan attendance for football

Alabama high schools are severely limiting attendance at football games this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, and at least one canceled sports after deciding it wasn't worth the risk to play.

Posted: Aug 15, 2020 8:40 PM

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama high schools are severely limiting attendance at football games this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, and at least one canceled sports after deciding it wasn't worth the risk to play.

Opelika High School said it will cap attendance at about 30% of the stadium’s normal capacity of 8,000 so fans can maintain proper social distancing, and Gulf Shores said attendance at athletic events will be cut by 50%.

Other schools are also announcing attendance reductions or still working on plans. The first football games are scheduled for this week, although some schools have delayed contests after players or staff tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The moves follow an announcement by state health officials on Thursday that fans can attend games despite the pandemic. The agency asked schools to limit crowds and require anyone in attendance to wear face masks and keep away from other people to avoid spreading the virus.

At Opelika, a large Class 6A school, athletic director Mike Pugh said officials first planned to limit capacity to 50% but realized that was still too many people for everyone to stay 6 feet apart, the Opelika-Auburn News reported.

“We didn’t want it to look like one of these beach scenes or party scenes where we had just a crowd of people in there. We were trying to be very vigilant about what if it looked bad and would we have a safe environment,” he said.

In Dallas County, Ellwood Christian Academy decided to cancel its football, volleyball and soccer seasons rather than take a risk during the pandemic.

“The safety of our coaches and players are important,” principal Gary Crum told The Selma Times-Journal. “A lot of the kids stay with their grandparents. We didn’t want to run the risk of the kids bringing the coronavirus to their families. I couldn’t live with myself if that happened. The church is closed and I’d look like a hypocrite if we let the kids play fall sports.”

In Baldwin County, where the city of Gulf Shores is limited crowds and county schools are considering cutbacks, Josh Turner of Spanish Fort watched a high school team practice on Thursday. He told WPMI-TV that a season with limited seating is better than none at all.

“We’ll take what we can get at this point. It’s just such a big part of this community,” said Turner.

Testing has confirmed more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama since the pandemic began in the spring, and more than 1,820 have died. While most people experience only mild to moderate symptoms, the virus can be deadly to elderly people and those with other health problems.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296745

Reported Deaths: 6783
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19774231
Hinds18916394
Harrison16850282
Rankin12823265
Jackson12700230
Lee9711162
Madison9499204
Jones8017148
Forrest7272138
Lauderdale6856227
Lowndes6051140
Lamar592081
Lafayette5761114
Washington5229130
Bolivar4626124
Oktibbeha442694
Panola433198
Pearl River4205132
Warren4143115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405192
Monroe3994128
Union396674
Neshoba3836170
Lincoln3590104
Hancock351978
Leflore3394120
Sunflower319786
Tate303574
Pike301996
Scott295771
Alcorn292563
Yazoo291466
Itawamba290575
Coahoma282769
Tippah280065
Copiah279759
Simpson277180
Prentiss271258
Wayne254841
Leake253572
Marion252878
Covington249980
Grenada248778
Adams235378
George232445
Newton232252
Winston222179
Jasper213945
Tishomingo213065
Attala206871
Chickasaw201753
Holmes182770
Clay179351
Stone173129
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170273
Calhoun158628
Smith153633
Yalobusha145636
Greene128133
Walthall124840
Noxubee123331
Montgomery123140
Perry122735
Lawrence120821
Carroll119325
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99624
Claiborne99029
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper90823
Quitman77414
Franklin76420
Choctaw69917
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62527
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498887

Reported Deaths: 10122
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719121402
Mobile36328740
Madison32639469
Tuscaloosa24372421
Montgomery22765520
Shelby22231218
Baldwin19890289
Lee15057158
Calhoun13901294
Morgan13770255
Etowah13407325
Marshall11452213
Houston10130264
Elmore9499190
Limestone9429138
St. Clair9041227
Cullman8991183
Lauderdale8618214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7628165
Walker6593259
Jackson6551104
Autauga633392
Blount6246128
Colbert6004121
Coffee5268104
Dale4676107
Russell407333
Franklin400078
Covington3998106
Chilton3902103
Escambia379273
Tallapoosa3631143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3422142
Pike293273
Marion288595
Lawrence285386
Winston258568
Bibb245758
Marengo243057
Geneva240570
Pickens225557
Barbour213951
Hale212269
Fayette202257
Butler201766
Henry183641
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165140
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146555
Clay146054
Cleburne139941
Lamar133933
Lowndes132851
Wilcox122825
Bullock117436
Conecuh107024
Perry106227
Sumter100432
Coosa90224
Greene88732
Choctaw55423
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