Boise State has changed its COVID-19 soccer game policy

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Shalyn Blaisdell, Kuna, receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Boise State Nursing Program student Dane Larson outside Albertsons Stadium on September 18. She was attending the Broncos football game with Oklahoma State.

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Boise State University has suspended plans to require fans to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or test negative for coronavirus before attending a football game at Albertsons Stadium, the school announced in a press release on Friday.

Idaho’s largest university by student body, with more than 22,000 enrolled, halted its previous security measures – announced a week earlier, ahead of a home game on Saturday – citing vaccination and infection rates on the campus, and concerns about testing capacity in the community.

The campus vaccination rate is around 88%, according to a university survey. Campus COVID-19 cases fell from 127 the week of September 2 to 77 the week of September 23.

However, the vast majority of the more than 35,000 people who attend Boise State football games come from off campus.

Boise State required proof of vaccination or a negative test for students only for the Sept. 18 game against Oklahoma State. He told fans to expect the policy to extend to the entire stadium for the Oct. 2 game against Nevada.

That changed on Friday.

“With declining campus positivity rates and high vaccination rates, the university will move from testing all student section ticket holders to randomly testing this population before the next week, “the school said in a written statement.

The percentage of Idaho’s eligible population (12 years and older) that is fully vaccinated is only 51.5%, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The university said it changed its COVID-19 policy for fans while maintaining an “ongoing dialogue” with Gov. Brad Little’s office, in addition to the State Board of Education, Central District Health – the public health board of the region – and Saint-Alphonse and Saint-Luc health systems.

The school’s test positivity rate over the past week was just over 3%, which represented a 46% drop, according to Boise State.

Boise State announced the policy change around 5:30 p.m. Friday – right after a special meeting of the State Board of Education to examine the impact of the virus on education.

“This decision was made in consultation with the Idaho State Board of Education after seeking input from community partners,” Boise State spokesperson Mike Sharp said at the Idaho Statesman.

Test positivity rates in the area are not as good as in Boise State. Ada County had a rate of 14.1% for the week ending September 18 and that of Canyon County was 23.3%. The statewide positivity rate for that week was 16.4%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a rate above 5% indicates significant community spread.

Boise State cited a potential drain on testing capacity as one of the reasons for his policy change.

“Due to the rates of COVID cases in Idaho, testing capacity statewide remains strained,” the Boise state statement said. “Given the limited testing capacity, the university is prioritizing its ability to test Idahoans who are symptomatic, at high risk of contracting COVID, or who have had known exposure. As a result, we will not require all ticket holders to provide a negative COVID test result in order to access the next home football game. “

The wave of COVID-19 cases in Treasure Valley and Idaho continue to strain local hospitals and pushed Idaho to adopt statewide crisis care standards last week , which means that health care providers could start rationing care. St. Luke’s called on Health and Welfare to implement Crisis Standards beyond initial activation in northern Idaho.

Idaho has reported 1,134 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past two weeks, according to a table provided to the State Board of Education. Health and Welfare predicts that the current outbreak will not peak until mid-November, at 21,000 cases per week, or an average of 3,000 per day.

“I see no indication so far that we are heading down. We may be heading towards a plateau, which I will support with continual increases, ”Dr. Kathryn Turner, assistant state epidemiologist of Idaho, told the State Board of Education on Friday, according to a press release. .

Boise State continues to request that – as with any other large-scale public event during the ongoing pandemic – anyone to stay home if feeling sick, has been exposed to someone positive for coronavirus in the past 14 years. days or is at high risk of contracting COVID-19. At the very least, these people should receive a negative test result before heading to campus, the university said.

The university is also asking fans to wear face masks inside the stadium. A face covering rule was in place for the first two home games, but compliance was lax.

Last week, Saint Al Clinical Director Dr Steven Nemerson reminded fans that they can simply choose to root for the Broncos from the safety of their own home as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. .

“People can choose not to attend these events, even with a mask on,” Nemerson said, “and people can also choose to patronize businesses that practice behaviors safe for COVID. “

Boise State had huge crowds for both of its home games: 35,518 against UTEP and 36,702 against Oklahoma State.

Kevin Fixler is an investigative reporter for the Idaho Statesman. He previously covered local government, environment, and transportation at The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., And the Summit Daily News in Breckenridge, Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Denver and the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.
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