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Is it safe to go to a sporting event right now?

Warriors Suns Basketball
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 01, 2021

The crack of the bat, the thrill of a slam dunk, or, at this point, just any feeling of normalcy. Fans are eager to get back to sporting events -- but how safe are they?

We took your concerns to Dr. David Engelthaler, an epidemiologist at TGen. Dr. Engelthaler says it starts with assessing your own level of personal risk.

"My concern would be that we have a lot of susceptible individuals going to those sporting events," he explains. "I would have very little fear of continued disease spread if everyone who was going was immune."

There are rules and safety guidelines in place at Valley stadiums and the Phoenix Suns arena, especially when it comes to social distancing and masking. Dr. Engelthaler says that's a good thing.

"You can have pods of people. They live together, they already spend time together. They can have seats together but then be distanced from other people they do not know and they have not been interacting with. I'm not sure what that distance is."

But he also reminds us to not crowd around refreshment stands and make sure we're spacing out in line because it helps us create a safe zone.

"It won't be perfect, but you definitely have to take care of yourself and your family. You don't want to mass huddle together. Not sure how they're doing it, but certainly not everyone huddled around the hot dog stand."

Outdoor events like Spring Training aren't as risky as indoor events due to airflow, assuming that all social distancing and masking guidelines are followed. And although basketball arenas are technically indoors, Dr. Engelthaler says because of the design, as long as you follow the rules, they can also be safe.

"I'm more comfortable with people in a space like that than I am... in a bar where they are packed in and breathing the same air. If you are breathing the same air as the next group of people, then you are probably too close. In a big open-air arena, that risk is certainly lowered, greatly. It's all about breathing in what someone else just breathed out...in the Suns' arena, there is a lot of space there. You can still have a limited number of people there enjoying and trying to get back to normal life."

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.