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.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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