Baker County’s COVID-19 safety measures at H.S. football games questioned by medical community

Duval football fans find fewer safety rules in Baker County

ST MARY, Fla. —

Baker County high school football fans are excited to be back in the stands.

“It’s fantastic! We are so excited to be playing again and doing something that’s normal,” said Laurie Ray, mother of a Baker County high school football player.

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However, Baker County’s approach to safety for fans during the COVID-19 pandemic has been sharply criticized by the medical community.

Masks are recommended, but not required. Fans are encouraged to social distance when possible, but there are no limits on occupancy.

Action News Jax spoke to UF Health’s Chief of Community Pediatrics, Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, about the policies.

“This continues to be another super spreader event,” said Goldhagen.

Video from Baker County’s first high school football game on Sept. 4, showing crowded stands with limited social distancing, and few people wearing masks, had more than two million views on the Action News Jax Twitter account.

Some commenters raised safety concerns. Others praised what they saw as an expression of freedom.

Since that time, district superintendent Sherrie Raulerson tells us they’ve started providing free masks and hand sanitizer to fans. However, while some wore masks inside the stadium on Friday night, many did not.

While Baker County has no limited seating capacity and does not require masks, Duval, Clay and St. Johns have capped seating at 30% and require fans to wear masks when entering and leaving the stadium.

Goldhagen recommends that people wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

“We see what’s happening around the world, with respect to when people don’t take responsibility. And this is an issue, not just for them at the football game, but for all of us as a community,” said Goldhagen.

Baker County fans we spoke to tell Action News Jax they feel safe with the measures in place.

“We take precautions, and we have our germ-x and everything, and washing our hands, and just being as safe as we can,” said Ray.