Director of Story County Public Health comments on fans potentially tailgating at fall sporting events


The Rosacker tailgate setup includes tables of food in front of their RV, “Cousin Eddie.”

Sam Stuve

Tailgating before a football game, or any sporting event, is one of the most popular things to do before going into the stadium for the start of the game.

However, because of the number of COVID-19 cases increasing in Story County and with thousands of college students set to move back to Ames in August, director of Story County Public Health Les White believes tailgating might not be the safest thing to do in the fall, but also believes people may tailgate regardless.

To be honest, it would be safer and healthier [for people] not to tailgate. But tailgating is such a strong tradition it will be hard for people to resist,” White said.

Iowa State is still planning on having games played in front of half-capacity crowds, but the Story County Board of Health is currently drafting up recommendations for that not to happen. 

If Iowa State doesn’t have fans in the stands for sporting events, then that could lead people to not tailgate at all or do it a somebody’s house.

White suggested certain measures for fans to take if they do decide to tailgate.

Anyone who plans to tailgate, or participate in any large gathering, should wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, have hand sanitizer handy and avoid sharing utensils, drinks and vapes,” White said. 

In a letter to fans on Thursday, Iowa State athletic director announced measures it plans to take to limit mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 at football games in Jack Trice Stadium in the fall.

“In addition to limiting seating capacity, we will reduce the time parking lots are open for tailgating, require face coverings to enter the stadium, move to digital ticketing, install additional hand sanitization stations, change entrance procedures, modify concession operations, as well as many other initiatives,” Pollard said. “A complete list of mitigation strategies for each athletics venue will be distributed prior to opening any facilities this season.”

White also said fans should know beforehand whether the people they are tailgating with have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Frankly, you should also have some assurance that nobody you are tailgating with has tested positive or been exposed to someone who has,” White said. “If you are sick, stay at home and if someone at your gathering isn’t feeling well, tell them to leave and go home.”

In Story County, there have been over 500 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths because of the virus.

There have been over 300 new cases in the last two weeks. 

“Story County currently has one of the highest rates of increases of positive COVID-19 cases in the country,” White said. “The majority of these new cases are people in the 19-to-25-year-old range, but no age group is exempt from COVID-19. This is a troubling trend that people need to keep in mind, especially as we enter the fall when there is the potential for another COVID-19 spike.”

Iowa State’s first confirmed sporting event of the 2020-21 athletic year is the football team’s game against South Dakota on Sept. 5 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Fall sporting events at Iowa State could begin earlier than Sept. 5, but that won’t be known until more fall sports teams release their schedule for the 2020-21 season.