Statement about Decision to Hold Badger Football Games
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 4:53pm
Public Health Madison & Dane County recommends that UW students and people in Dane County do not gather with others to watch Badger football games. The decision to hold the football season right now has wide-reaching impacts beyond athlete and student safety and will impact the health and safety of many people in Dane County. We strongly urge everyone to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all people in their decision-making.
“Of course it’s disappointing that something as well-loved as gathering to watch Badger football games can’t happen this year,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “But the reality is that it’s not possible to have a traditional football season without substantially increasing COVID-19 transmission. We value people’s health and lives over sports, and we hope that UW does as well.”
“We’ve already seen a record number of cases from the UW campus just from students moving in,” said Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive. "While we all love our football Saturdays, the festivities that come with them are going to serve as new spreading events within our community. We have a lot of sick UW students right now - 88% of those who have tested positive are reporting symptoms - and this is before the weather gets colder and flu season arrives."
Because so many people gather to celebrate and watch Badger games, it is likely that a Badger football season would spread COVID-19 to not only UW-Madison students, but also to people from all over Dane County.
"The increase in cases we are seeing is predominantly due to parties. Adding football parties into this mix is only going to make the situation worse," said Satya Rhodes-Conway, City of Madison Mayor.
On top of the risk to Dane County residents, football games hold a risk to student athletes. As of the time of this press release, 42 players and staff on the Wisconsin Badgers football team have already tested positive for COVID-19. Emerging evidence and research is showing that even though athletes recover from COVID-19, serious long term health issues can persist, including myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure.
Public Health Madison & Dane County does not have authority over the UW-Madison campus, including Camp Randall football stadium, but does have authority over gatherings outside of the stadium to limit gatherings per Emergency Order #9. We will be continuing to enforce public health orders in partnership with the City of Madison Police Department. We recognize the impact of reduced capacity on the hospitality sector and ask for continued support in adhering to orders so that we can reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.
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