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Iowa State allowing 25,000 fans at first football game despite rising COVID cases in state

More colleges closing over worries of coronavirus
More colleges closing over worries of coronavirus on campus 01:39

Update: Iowa State reversed course Wednesday and said it will not allow fans in the stadium. Read the latest story here. 

Iowa State said it will allow about 25,000 season-ticket holders to attend the team's opener in Ames against Louisiana-Lafayette on September 12 , despite rising COVID-19 numbers in Iowa. The decision comes despite Ames having the second worst COVID-19 outbreak in the nation in relation to population size, according to the New York Times.

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard told fans in a letter that they will be required to wear face coverings and that tailgating will not be allowed. Pollard asked that fans respect others' wishes for distancing.

Iowa continues to struggle with the virus spreading in several counties. CBS affiliate KCCI-TV reports that Dr. John Paschen, the chairman of the Story County Board of Health, said in a statement that he is "sorely disappointed" in the decision and that he finds the decision a danger to the community at large.

"I'm sure Dr. Paschen feel strongly about where he is coming from, but there are other people in this community that feel just as strongly that he's not correct," Pollard said.

Oklahoma St Iowa St Football
In normal years, Iowa State football games draw huge crowds. This was the scene when Iowa State played Oklahoma State at Jack Trice Stadium on October 26, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Matthew Putney / AP

ISU said fans attending the September 12 season opener must wear face coverings at all times and that anyone who does not wear a face covering will be denied entry or removed from the game.

Iowa continues to record a high number of new positive coronavirus cases as the state struggles with the spread of the virus in several counties, including those with university campuses. Data released Monday from the Iowa Department of Public Health showed 611 new positive cases and two additional deaths, raising the total to 1,112 deaths. 

With many K-12 schools back in class, some districts also grappling with high levels of virus activity in their communities. Twelve counties have a positivity rate of 15% or higher.  

President Donald Trump's new pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, said he believes college football should be played this year even though many universities have canceled all fall sports.

Atlas, appearing with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Monday in Tallahassee, said stadiums have plenty of room for distancing.

"The communities of college towns depend on these activities," Atlas said.

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