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New York state is expected to make a final decision by early September on whether fans can attend college sports events.
The final decision is expected prior to the Orange’s Sept. 4 season opener at Boston College. Rich Azzopardi, a senior aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told Syracuse.com that any policy change would account for new information or trends regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“When it gets closer to the season starting, we’ll be making another determination,” Azzopardi said. “Everything is based on the infection rate and where the world is.”
Azzopardi’s response comes two days after Cuomo ordered all colleges in the state to prohibit fans from sporting events this fall in accordance with the state’s existing ban on social gatherings of more than 50 people. The state has also banned fans at professional sporting events — at both outdoor and indoor venues — and tailgating.
Syracuse was planning on filling the newly renovated Carrier Dome this fall with fans in some capacity. SU Director of Athletics John Wildhack said in a statement that the university will seek clarification on Cuomo’s order.
COVID-19 cases are trending upward in 39 states, and the country’s total number of hospitalizations on Wednesday nearly surpassed the high of 60,000 patients previously set in April, according to The New York Times. California, Texas, Idaho and Alabama reported record-high daily death tolls Wednesday.
The curve of COVID-19 infections in central New York has been largely flattened, though, and Onondaga County has been in its fourth phase of reopening for almost a month. Still, Azzopardi fears that allowing fans at sporting events could attract individuals from outside of the country and make the region prone to a cluster of cases.
“An infection in Texas is as good as an infection here,” Azzopardi told Syracuse.com. “This virus does not respect borders. It does not respect a particular event. We’re constantly looking at the science.”
As of now, the college football season is still set to occur in some form. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced conference-only schedules. Syracuse is tasked with replacing Rutgers and Colgate on its schedule or follow an alternative plan laid out by the ACC.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, our fans, our campus community and the broader Central New York community is our chief priority,” Wildhack said in a July 21 statement.
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