Want to see Duke play basketball at Cameron? Better get your COVID vaccine

·3 min read

If you beat the odds to secure a ticket to watch a Duke basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season as the Blue Devils head coach, being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is your best way to assure you’ll be able to use it.

While plans are being finalized, Duke University is expected to implement a vaccine mandate for basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season as the school wants to be on the leading edge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think there’s a really great opportunity here for letting people in who are vaccinated,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a Duke infectious disease specialist who chairs the ACC’s Medical Advisory Group, told the school’s Academic Council during its meeting last Thursday. “We should lead in that regard.”

The plan expected to be unveiled for this season will be proof of full vaccination or a proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the start of the event. Those without either will be given a rapid test for COVID-19 on the spot at their expense, with only a negative test allowing them to enter.

An official announcement of the plan is expected within the next week. The first public basketball event scheduled for Cameron Indoor Stadium is the Countdown to Craziness scrimmage on Oct. 15. Duke’s only exhibition game is Oct. 30 against Winston-Salem State.

The first regular-season game at Cameron Indoor will be Nov. 12 against Army.

Duke did not allow spectators to attend games at Cameron Indoor Stadium last season. The only media allowed in the building were those involved with television broadcasts of the game. Members of the school’s Academic Council were curious about how attendance would be handled at Cameron this season.

Opened in 1940, cozy Cameron Indoor Stadium seats 9,314 people for basketball games. While that atmosphere has made it tough place for opposing teams to beat the Blue Devils, Wolfe admitted “that’s also not ideal in this situation” with the pandemic stubbornly keeping its grip on society due to the delta variant.

Last season, that meant benches were expanded to allow for physical distancing and players wore masks when not in the game. That, of course, was before COVID-19 vaccines became widely available.

As of Monday, 53% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Durham County, with 63% of its population fully vaccinated, is ahead of the state on that front.

Bordering counties Orange (80%) and Wake (64%) are also among the state’s most-vaccinated counties.

Vaccines are mandated for Duke’s students, faculty and staff. As of Oct. 1, they will be a requirement for employment at Duke.

Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke’s vice president of administration, told Academic Council the student body is complaint with the vaccine requirement while 95% of university employees are fully vaccinated.

In the weekly COVID case update posted online Monday, Duke reported nine active cases among its faculty and staff with 27 among the student body. Over the last week, the positivity rate is 0.17% for 21,119 tests administered to 14,881 people.

Duke currently has a mask mandate in place for all indoor spaces on campus, which currently includes volleyball games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The requirement is no longer in place for outdoor settings, like football games at Wallace Wade Stadium.

During last Thursday’s Academic Council meeting, Wolfe said the indoor mask requirement will be “one of the last things that I think we pull back on” when the pandemic begins to wane.

Vaccine mandates for sports arenas have been implemented around the country.

NFL teams requiring proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 include the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders, who both play in domes, as well as the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, who both play in outdoor venues.

Just last week, TD Garden in Boston announced a vaccine requirement for spectators to attend Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins games.

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