Big Ten Mayors sign open letter for more COVID-19 precautions during football games

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 1:56 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Several mayors, worried that Big Ten schools are not taking enough precautions to protect their communities from the coronavirus, signed an open letter on Tuesday to the conference and universities urging them to take more steps during football games to guard against the spread of COVID-19. Only four Big Ten Mayors, including Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, did not sign the letter.

“While we all appreciate our college and university sports programs and the economic and community benefits that they provide, the COVID-19 crisis is far from over and we are expecting some potential new obstacles as a result of the upcoming football season,” said Mayor Aaron Stephens, of East Lansing, Michigan, the home of Michigan State University.

For starters, the mayors are asking Big Ten officials to work with local health officials to determine at what point, based on the percentage of total tests that are positive, the conference would deem it no longer safe to host a game in that city.

“We hope that by continuing to work with our individual colleges and universities, our public health officials and the Big Ten Conference, we can be as prepared as possible for the return of football in our communities,” Stephens continued.

The mayors would also like the conference to release its full schedule, along with game times. So far this year, the conference has only released game times for the first two weeks of the season and those were only released in the week preceding the games.

In addition to knowing the game times, the mayors want the conference to avoid scheduling games at night or in the early evening, stating those games would increase activities such as social gatherings and alcohol consumption, thereby increasing the risk of community spread.

The only four mayors not to sign the letter were the mayors of New Brunswick, New Jersey, home of Rutgers University; Lincoln, Nebraska, home of University of Nebraska; Champaign-Urbana, the twin cities home of the University of Illinois.

The mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Andy Schor, also signed the letter. That city neighbors MSU’s home city.

The full list of mayors and their respective cities is listed below:

  • Mayor Aaron Stephens; East Lansing, Mich.
  • Mayor Andy Schor; Lansing, Mich.
  • Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway; Madison, Wis.
  • Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn; College Park, Md.
  • Mayor Ronald Filippelli; State College, Pa.
  • Mayor Christopher Taylor; Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Mayor Steve Hagerty; Evanston, Ill.
  • Mayor John Dennis; West Lafayette, Ind.
  • Mayor Jacob Frey; Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Mayor John Hamilton; Bloomington, Ind.
  • Mayor Bruce Teague; Iowa City, Iowa
  • Mayor Andrew Ginther; Columbus, Ohio

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