Cincinnati’s sports teams may see more fans — or any at all — back in stadiums this year, COVID be damned.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday that the state is considering 30% in-person attendance for sports that are played in outdoor stadiums in 2021. Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and Major League Soccer teams are among those in Ohio that would be affected.
The governor said he has been in contact with sports officials as well as local, county and state health departments about the issue.
“We’re optimistic,” DeWine said in the Feb. 22 coronavirus briefing. “We’re looking at a summer where more and more people are going to be vaccinated every day, where mask-wearing inside a ballpark — if that can occur, we think 30% is a reasonable place to start.”
However, DeWine cautioned that in-person attendance depends upon each sports team requiring fans and personnel to wear masks and enforcing that edict, along with physical distancing. DeWine also said that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations must continue to trend downward or in-person attendance would be reconsidered.
DeWine has repeatedly championed masks as key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus in Ohio, especially with new variants on the virus being identified.
As of Feb. 22, there are 1,374 COVID-related hospitalizations in Ohio, down from 1,980 on Feb. 9, DeWine said. Cumulatively, there have been 49,492 hospitalizations in Ohio.
Currently, Ohio has limited in-person attendance at sports events to 15% or 1,500 fans, whichever is fewer. Some teams have requested and have been granted variances that allow for a higher attendance.
Players and staff on the Cincinnati Reds had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020. Across MLB, teams were found to not have followed masking, distancing or “bubble” protocol throughout the season.
DeWine promised more information about stadium capacity later this week.