Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas defends decision to allow fans at Chiefs games
Two NFL teams are hosting fans for their Week 1 opener amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of those teams is the Kansas City Chiefs, who kick off the defense of their Super Bowl championship Thursday against the Houston Texans in the NFL’s season opener.
With other North American sports barring fans as the pandemic continues to maintain its grip in America, the NFL is the first to roll the dice that fans can attend safely. It’s a decision that requires agreement from the league, teams, and local and state governments.
Kansas City mayor explains decision to allow fans
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas gave the green light to the Chiefs, who have opened Arrowhead Stadium to roughly 16,000 fans. He spoke with Yahoo Finance on Thursday to defend the call.
“Arrowhead Stadium is a large, cavernous, 80,000-seat stadium, so we’re able to keep social distancing, we’re able to keep people outside and we’re able to make sure that people aren’t interacting in close spaces and touching surfaces,” Lucas said.
Lucas said that city officials consulted with medical experts and argued that the outdoor football stadium provides a safer environment than an arena hosting a basketball or hockey game could. He also described the scenario as safer than going out to eat in restaurants.
‘Likely’ that someone with COVID-19 will attend
Lucas acknowledged the likelihood that at least one person entering Arrowhead Stadium would be infected with COVID-19, but maintained his belief that the risk of spread wasn’t significant enough to ban fans. He cited safety measures like wearing masks and social distancing.
“If you have that number of people, you are likely to have someone who has been infected by COVID-19,” Lucas said. “That said, if people keep their distancing, if they have their masks, if they go through all of the safeguards that we’ve established in Kansas City, then we’re not likely to see further spread.”
Those, of course, are a lot of ifs depending on guidelines that the American public has not been willing to adhere to as a whole. Lucas acknowledged that some people in rural communities surrounding Kansas City are openly flouting those guidelines, but he remained undeterred that fans at games present a significant public health risk.
“I’m not dramatically concerned that we’ll get that many more cases out of Arrowhead Stadium,” Lucas continued. “I think the protections should work. But it’s something we’ll continue to look at each week.”
Lucas said that he hopes Kansas City’s experience will provide a model for the rest of the country.
Yahoo Finance spoke with former White House doctor Jennifer Peña earlier in the week. She wasn’t as optimistic about the NFL’s plan to allow fans as Lucas.
“It’s hard to believe that with opening up the season, even in a limited capacity, that we’re not going to see an uptick in cases,” Peña said. “And it would be tragic.”
As of Thursday, the United States claimed 6.4 million of the world’s 27.9 million COVID-19 cases and 191,000 of the 906,000 deaths attributed to the virus.
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