Governor Mike DeWine announced on Saturday his grant of a spectator variance for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.
Both NFL clubs received exceptions to the current state order limiting spectators to the lesser of 1,500 people or 15 percent of the fixed, seated capacity.
The variance allows 1,500 people to sit at each end of the stadium – north, south, east and west – for a maximum capacity of 6,000 during the following games:
- September 17: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
- September 27: Washington at Cleveland Browns
- October 4: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
- October 25: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
The variance comes two days after DeWine said in a COVID press conference
“… people have to make choices. Inside or outside? This time of year, you need to be outside.”
The consistency regarding orders seems to be distance – Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio amusement park) can have up to 25,000 people on the grounds during a weekend. That capacity limit seems to be due to the expansive site on which the park sits versus the area of a football stadium.
“These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks,” said Governor DeWine of the plans the Browns and Bengals organizations submitted that the state approved.
Still at odds though:
1) people are not yet restored to “personal choice” – they cannot get back to normal life because the narrative is that their freedoms may put them in contact with COVID and they may contract and carry the virus without even knowing it and then pass it along to a more vulnerable person (or as DeWine says “kill Grandma”);
2) All of Ohio’s direct indicators show that the virus is nowhere near its projected strength and deadliness – R-Naught is below one and has been since June 28; Positive test rate is below five percent; increased testing has increased cases but hospitalization and deaths have been trending downward since July– fewer cases from April to May resulted in more hospitalizations and deaths than multiple-more cases have at present.
The decline in hospitalizations and deaths comes even as both categories have wide and liberal definitions, warned CDC Director Robert Redfield. Redfield said hospitals are incented to count patients as COVID-positive.
The CDC indicated the week of August 24 that 6% of current deaths were due to only COVID and the other 94% were due to COVID and pre-existing conditions (although some causes should absolutely be removed from the toll – suicides, overdoses and domestic violence, to name a few).
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Jack Windsor is Managing Editor and an Investigative Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Cleveland Browns Stadium” by Ak169808. CC BY-SA 3.0.