OPELIKA, Ala. -- Alabama high schools are limiting attendance at football games this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Opelika High School says it will cap attendance at about 30% of the stadium capacity of 8,000 so fans can maintain proper social distancing. Gulf Shores says attendance at athletic events will be cut by 50%.
Other schools are announcing attendance reductions or still working on plans. Some are skipping fall sports. The first football games are scheduled for this week, although some schools have delayed games after players or staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
The seven-day average number of daily cases in Alabama has dropped below 1,000, after reaching 1,800 in mid-July. The number of hospitalized patients has lessened from about 1,600 to 1,400, and the percent of positive tests has gone from 16.7% to 12.3%.
However, Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who heads the Alabama Hospital Association, says 89% of ICU beds are full.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.