The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced late Wednesday night that while state football championships are still permitted to be held in Pueblo, no spectators will be allowed.
The games will continue to be held at CSU Pueblo from Dec. 3-5, and will not be moved to other sites, due to variances approved by CDPHE.
The full release from the CDPHE:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tonight announced greater restrictions to the approval for the state’s high school football championship games. These additional restrictions come as Pueblo County continues to have widespread transmission of COVID-19. Experts at the Colorado School of Public Health estimate that 1 in 29 people in Pueblo and surrounding areas are contagious with the virus. Much of the county is restricted by stringent capacity limits, as dictated in Level Red of the state's dial.
New modifications to Pueblo County's approval, which was originally approved on November 4, will disallow spectators. Attendance will now be limited solely to football teams, athletic staff, cheerleaders, band members, broadcast staff, and other essential personnel.
"We appreciate the ongoing partnership with the Colorado High School Activities Association as we navigate these tough times," said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE. "Early in the season, our organizations both agreed that additional safety measures like these might need to be taken, and now unfortunately we are there. These decisions aren't made lightly, but they’re necessary."
"Our administrators always advocate for the full high school experience and although disappointing, we support these tough decisions," said CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. "Season A football for 218 schools that competed this fall and approval of the culminating championships in these unprecedented and tumultuous times, would not have been possible without the support of CDPHE, state and county officials."
CDPHE will continue to monitor the situation over the week. If conditions worsen, CDPHE may need to revisit the modified variance.
All championship games will be broadcast on the NFHS Network.
CDPHE executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan sent the following letter on Wednesday to the Pueblo County Commissioners, and the county health department:
Dear Commissioners and Director Evetts:
Thank you for your continued partnership and diligence in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of widespread transmission taking place in Pueblo County and throughout the state, I find it necessary to modify your November 4, 2020 variance approval to Public Health Order 20-36 Safer at Home (PHO 20-28). The Nov. 4 variance as granted was to host state football championship games at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl on the CSU Pueblo campus, from December 4-5, with modified capacity limits for fans in the stands.
As of November 22, 2020 at 5 p.m., Pueblo County entered COVID-19 Dial Level Red based on the county’s incidence rate and hospitalizations. This modified variance will allow the games to proceed, but with greater restrictions. Attendance at the 2020 Colorado High School Football championship will now be limited solely to football teams, athletic staff, cheerleaders, band members, broadcast staff, and other essential personnel as determined by CHSAA. CDPHE will continue to monitor the situation over the week. If conditions change, we may need to revisit the modified variance.
This decision is not made lightly. The culmination of playing in a championship game is an experience that young people may have only once in a lifetime. At the same time, we want to discourage travel to Pueblo County from around the state, which will necessitate lodging and other amenities. According to the Colorado School of Public Health, 1 in 29 residents of the south central area of Colorado, including Pueblo, are infected with the virus.
Thank you for your continuing efforts to ensure that Pueblo county residents are safe and healthy. Please let me know if I may be of assistance or answer any questions.
Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH