Game on: Live events soldier on despite rising case counts

Game on: Live events soldier on despite rising case counts

2022-07-13T09:27:03-04:00December 28th, 2021|Economy, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sports, Tourism|

Writer: Joshua Andino

nhl winter classic2 min read  December 2021As Minnesota reaches the 1 million mark for COVID cases, live events are underpinning Downtown Minneapolis’ recovery, bolstered by revised CDC guidelines recommending shorter quarantines. 

Over 1 million COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Minnesota since the beginning of the pandemic 22 months ago, with state health officials announcing 4,155 new cases on Monday. The number of infections in Minnesota now totals 1,000,361. The rise in case counts seems due to the omicron variant of COVID-19, which presents milder symptoms, particularly for vaccinated and boosted individuals.

While concerns remain, the CDC has reduced its quarantine guidelines based on its current assessment of the omicron variant. “Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after,” the CDC said in a statement. The CDC recommended people who test positive should isolate for five days, and may exit isolation if asymptomatic while maintaining strict mask-wearing for another five days. 

Booster shots could also slow the spread, according to a new study using Minnesota health records, reports the Star Tribune. Dr. Paul Dawz, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and lead author of the study, told the Tribune, “Individuals who received a booster had a greater protection from infection and hospitalizations.” The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.

While challenges remain, Downtown Minneapolis continues apace with New Year’s preparations, shutting down several streets around Target Field in anticipation of the National Hockey Leagues’ 2022 Winter Classic. The game will be held on New Year’s Day, with the affected streets along Sixth Street North, from Second Avenue North to Hennepin Avenue, and First Avenue North from Seventh Street North to Fifth Street North. Closures will be in place from Tuesday up to Sunday afternoon, the day after the game. 

This year’s Winter Classic will see the Minnesota Wild taking on the St. Louis Blues. Country Music Star Thomas Rhett will headline entertainment for the event. Live events like the Winter Classic and surrounding activities are key to the recovery of Downtown Minneapolis, which has seen struggles both as corporate returns-to-office remain ambiguous and the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd have left lingering concerns around public safety. 

“Events are critical to our goal of restoring vibrancy in the area,” Minneapolis Downtown Council President and CEO Steve Cramer told Invest:. “We’ve been able to host many more live events in 2021. We introduced a farmer’s market Downtown. We’re hosting concerts. People are attracted to our new park, The Commons, which is by the new NFL stadium. We’re reactivating street-level activities with curated street musicians and street art festivals. Then, of course, we have our big civic events.” 

While the Winter Classic and 2022 are just a few days away, the return to live sporting events isn’t just part of Downtown’s revival, but essential for the recovery of the city’s hospitality sector. “Live sporting events are very important for our business,” The Graduate Minneapolis General Manager Chuck Goldberg told Invest:. “The impact of having no fans at any of the sporting events last year impacted the hospitality industry in an unprecedented way. We are still feeling  those effects today and are anticipating a slow, but steady recovery. There is pent-up demand in our sector.”  

Whether that demand holds is still an open question, as a number of flights were canceled in the wake of omicron’s surge across the country. Both the NHLopens PDF file and the sports industry more broadly have taken a number of steps to mitigate risks for fans and players alike. With updated regulations, Downtown getting back on its feet and Minnesotans ready for a new year, it’s game on for 2022 and the Winter Classic. 

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