College football begins across North Texas as region sees spike in COVID-19 cases

College football season kicks off this weekend with multiple games taking place across North Texas as the region continues to have a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Both TCU and SMU have their home openers Saturday night and AT&T Stadium will host Stanford versus Kansas State on Saturday morning. But multiple large gatherings coupled with a holiday weekend has doctors worried about another possible spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases.

The games, unlike last season, will be open to full capacity with masks encouraged but not required.

"This is a preventable surge. And so it's very frustrating and sad to see people suffering when they didn't have to," said Dr. Emma Dishner, Dallas County Medical Society. "We're having a lot more patients coming in sicker and we're having a lot younger patients. And so it's just like frustrating and sad all around."

The infectious diseases doctor says at the rate COVID-19 is progressing in North Texas, we’re on track to surpass the peaks the DFW area saw last winter.

"We're already preparing for the worst," Dishner said. "After every holiday, we have seen a spike. And so I don't I don't suspect that this holiday will be any different."

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At AT&T Stadium where Saturday’s game between Kansas State and Stanford will take place, masks are encouraged but not required. 

Both SMU and TCU have a mandatory mask rule in place for indoor spaces on campus, but most game-day related activities will take place outdoors. SMU officials say spectators are welcome to wear a mask and are encouraging people to get vaccinated, as 98 percent of the football team already is. 

Last year, two games on TCU’s schedule were postponed or cancelled due to players and staff testing positive for COVID-19. This year the team reports they are also nearing 100 percent vaccinated. 

Doctors say younger age groups, including college-age young adults, are lagging in vaccination rates. They say those figures are concerning. 

"So just encouraging young people to go get go get back vaccinated and mask it, not if not to protect yourself, to protect people you love," Dishner said.

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