INDIANAPOLIS–When the NCAA announced that Indianapolis would be the headquarters for its Mens Basketball Tournament back in January, the question was raised, could the city welcome thousands of visitors from across the country and stay COVID safe?
Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine says so far, it has.
“We’ve only given, since the NCAA, what we call two notices of violations regarding either our social distancing or violating our public health order,” said Dr. Caine after she has sent additional health department staff into the streets to be on the lookout for masking and other violations. “I would say at least a majority of them are masking up and doing what they need to do.”
Iowa fans arriving at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the noon tip off versus the Ducks of Oregon were split 50/50 on wearing their masks outside even though face coverings are required to enter the arena.
“I already had the virus a while ago and I can’t get it again and I wouldn’t be too worried about it anyways,” said Liam Christensen who skipped classes to come to Indy for the tournament.
“There’s precautions in place and we’re all pretty young so we just wear a mask and we’ll be okay I guess,” said Jon Percy.
Chris Shine, wearing a mask representing his hometown volunteer fire department, brought his school-age sons from Bloomington, Illinois, to cheer on the Hawkeyes.
“It’s been a mix outside and we haven’t been wearing them until we get to somewhere like this where we’re getting to go in.”
Katie Shine said she had no worries about bringing her sons to Indianapolis during the pandemic.
“It was just something fun we wanted to do for spring break,” she said. “We actually bought these tickets before we knew who we were playing but became pretty excited when we found out the matchup we were able to see.
“We feel very safe. Everything’s clean. Everything’s protected. We wear our masks when we’re around groups of people but when we’re kind of by ourselves we tend to take them off or when we’re out of doors.”
Dr. Caine said if there are COVID cases related to the tournament and visitors or Marion County residents returning to downtown or spring breakers coming back from Florida, those numbers won’t show up for another week and through the middle of April.
Right now Dr. Caine pegs Marion County’s COVID-19 positivity rate at less than 3%.