Pennsylvania hit a significant milestone Wednesday, as Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 70 percent of the state’s adult population has received at least a first dose of the COVID vaccination.
It’s always an awkward transition going from the virus to sports, but … the 70 percent number should be the final step necessary for Penn State to get the green light to be able to sell out football games at Beaver Stadium this fall.
Wolf spoke at Penn State, along with James Franklin and PSU president Eric Barron, three weeks ago and said the 70 percent threshold was vital for the state to start getting back to normal.
Well, here we are at the 70 percent magic number, from a first dose standpoint anyway. With the start of football season still more than three months away, it would seem to be a certainty that PA will indeed reach 70 percent fully vaccinated by then.
The fully vaccinated part is a requirement for Wolf to lift the mask mandate in Pennsylvania. Already, gathering limits and all other COVID-related limits are set to end May 31.
Here’s what Wolf said in his press release Wednesday:
“Today we hit a significant milestone in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pennsylvanians have come together to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy and safe. This selflessness is now reflected in vaccination rates throughout the commonwealth. The vaccines are our best defense against this deadly virus. The light is shining bright at the end of this tunnel, but we must continue to stay the course. I encourage everyone to show up for their second vaccine appointment and take pride in doing your part to help protect individuals who are unable to get vaccinated.”
I’ve been about as cautious as anyone throughout the whole pandemic — encouraging patience and crowd limits and so on, and so on.
But the time has come to turn the corner.
We needed to trust the science all along. And now that the science tells us that having 70 percent of people being vaccinated means that people no longer need to wear masks outdoors, then the logical next step is to open back up sports venues, concert venues and the like for a return to full crowd capacity.
Michigan has already announced it will allow full capacity at the Big House this fall. Other schools have, as well.
It’s time for Penn State to go ahead make the same call, allowing for 107,000 fans to return to Beaver Stadium this fall. Doing so now, with a lot of time left before the season, would help all parties — the school, fans, local businesses — from the many logistics standpoints.
Now, will that many people show up to fully pack the stadium? It’s a separate issue, but I do believe there still could be a lot of people skeptical about returning to big crowds after all we’ve been through over the past year. Penn State has a large elderly fan base, so will all of those folks want to return to the stadium this year?
That remains to be seen.
Regardless, they should have the right to do so if they would like.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. And when PSU players run out of the tunnel this year at Beaver Stadium, they should be looking up at a packed house.