It’s June, and with summer ahead, thoughts of sports fans are turning to the fall and the prospect of high school and college football games.

COVID 19 has presented challenges to the entire sports world, and some have found solutions, such as NASCAR with their races without spectators. However, football is a different animal, especially high school and college, where the fans play an integral part in the game.

KGVO spoke with Missoula City County Health Officer Ellen Leahy about the particular challenges of a sporting event during COVID 19 with crowds converging on Missoula.

“Other than living in a household, an institution or a shared household with someone who is infected is your highest risk for catching it,” said Leahy. “That’s just a given. You’ve got weddings and funerals and the family hosting each other, but right after that the next highest risk, but its groups.”

Leahy said if an outbreak does occur, contact tracing becomes much more difficult in a crowded arena.

“Not only do you have the higher number in the group, the higher the chance that you have infected people there and the higher the chance that they’re going to interact with each other,” she said. “Where that becomes a real practical problem for public health to stop the spread, is that if we get a case or a couple of cases, we have to be able to identify who that person had close contact with.”

Leahy said one of the challenges would be that the sheer size of the gathering might overwhelm the small number of health workers.

“I have to say that at first glance, I would find that the number of people you would need to control that and the space you would need to have to have distancing the more control you’d need,” she said. “The more people you’re adding to the scene to try to control the distancing, so at some point you’re adding more people to control fewer people, and it can get pretty tricky, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Right on cue, Director of Athletics at the University of Montana released an open letter to Grizzly fans on Monday addressing these very topics. That letter is attached here.

Haslam and Coach Bobby Hauck will be hosting a ZOOM press conference on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

KGVO will be a part of that press conference.

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