Iowa State plans to allow 25,000 fans into football opener, even though Iowa is a covid hotbed

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In Story County, home to Iowa State’s campus, the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents is 777, nearly a fourfold increase from just a week ago and one of the highest rates in the nation for one county. On Aug. 14, that number hovered around only 50 new cases per 100,000 residents.

Nonetheless, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard told reporters Monday that the school plans to “thread the needle” and allow its football stadium to be about 41 percent full for the Sept. 12 football opener. The school will require fans to wear face coverings at all times, they will be spaced out throughout the stadium and tailgating will not be allowed.

“I’ll have personally zero, zero tolerance for any fan that doesn’t comply,” Pollard said Monday. “I don’t care how much money they give this institution, if you want to be in the stadium, you’re going to have to comply with what we put together. If you don’t do it, we don’t want you here.”

The plan to allow fans into the stadium only applies to Iowa State’s season opener against Louisiana. A decision on allowing fans at future Iowa State games will be made after the opener. The school arrived at the 25,000 number because that’s the number of season tickets it sells; should season ticket holders decide not to attend the game, their tickets will not be resold.

During an Iowa State town hall meeting covered by the Iowa State Daily on Monday, President Wendy Wintersteen said the school has no plans to end in-person learning despite the rising coronavirus numbers. She said the rise can be attributed to large off-campus social gatherings rather than on-campus transmission.

Wintersteen reported that out of 1,749 tests performed during the semester’s second week, 503 were positive (28.8 percent). Those numbers did not include students who tested positive as part of the residence hall move-in process, the Daily reports.

A sizable chunk of FBS college football teams will attempt to play this season, though the Big Ten and Pacific-12 will not. Many teams have said they will not allow fans at their season openers but have not made decisions about the rest of the season. Others are limiting attendance to between 20 percent and 25 percent of their stadiums’ capacity.

According to a list of school plans compiled by USA Today, Iowa State’s decision to allow its football stadium to be around 41 percent full is the highest allowed capacity in the country.

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