Will there be full SEC stadiums in 2021? Dr. Anthony Fauci offers optimistic outlook
For as much as players and coaches have adjusted to the new protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic this season, the atmosphere in stadiums has also seen a dramatic change. Most SEC stadiums have limited capacity to about 20,000 fans, and many have fallen below that number.
As vaccines for the virus roll out, there will be adjustments made for leagues like the SEC and individual programs to return to welcoming more fans at more games going forward.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave an interview to Yahoo Sports, and offered a timeline of how the sports world will ramp up fans being involved in games.
When asked about full NFL stadiums in September, Fauci said: “Oh, that’s possible. I think that’s possible.”
The extent to which SEC stadiums are full will likely come down to the vaccination rate across the country, along with local and state health department decisions.
“We could get there by the end of the summer, and as we get into the fall of next year,” Fauci said. But “if 50 percent of the people say, ‘You know, I don’t want to get vaccinated,’ then it’s gonna take considerably longer than that.”
He also added that 20,000-seat NBA arenas in July, when the postseason is scheduled to conclude, would be “cutting it close.”
“We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people (from) the end of December through January, February, March,” Fauci said. “By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June. So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable (with full sports stadiums) – if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”