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Governor Confident Iowa City Can Meet Big Ten’s COVID-19 Criteria For Football

The Big Ten football season will open October 24, without fans in the stands, but host communities will first need to meet certain COVID-19 positivity rates. Gov. Kim Reynolds today said she’s confident Iowa City, the University of Iowa and Johnson County will reach whatever standards are set.

“The university presidents, the students, the Greek systems I think understand the importance of really abiding by what those guidelines are,” Reynolds said, “because they can see, now, the impact that it has.”

Johnson County, where the University of Iowa campus is located, has seen spikes in case numbers in recent weeks, especially among young adults.

“We’re seeing the trends trend in the right direction,” Reynolds said late this morning during her weekly news conference. “We’ll continue to manage, mitigate and contain.”

Reynolds supported Iowa State University’s initial decision to have about 25,000 fans at last Saturday’s game in Ames. The governor told reporters there is “a safe and responsible way” to have fans in the stadium in Iowa City.

“But that’s a decision that they will make, I would be consistent in what I’ve been saying, you know, if it’s half capacity or we just really think about how we do it, I think eventually that be done,” Reynolds said.

Where fans may legally gather outside the stadium in Iowa City to watch games is not clear today. Bars, taverns, nightclubs and breweries in Iowa City and other areas of Johnson County have been closed since August 27, based on an order from the governor.

“The criteria’s in place for the bars through September 20,” Reynolds said. “We reevaluate every day. We’ll reevaluate with the epi team and the Department of Public Health to see what their recommendations are going forward and what the trend line looks like.”

The Big Ten’s criteria indicates a team will be suspended from competition for a week if 5 percent of the team’s players or 7.5 percent of the campus community test positive for COVID-19.