SANTA CLARA, CA – FEBRUARY 9: Sheila, 78, and Andrew Blash, 84, get their coronavirus vaccine shots at Levi’s Stadium, Monday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. The site opened today and expects to ramp up to be the largest coronavirus vaccination site in the state. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Medical experts are huddling up to help the 49ers re-open Levi’s Stadium this coming season, presuming COVID-19 case rates drop and Santa Clara County gives the green light.
The 49ers unveiled an advisory committee this morning to determine the safest measures so they and perhaps fans can return to their home field.
Last season, no fans were allowed into Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers relocated to Glendale, Ariz., for their final month (and three home games) because of Santa Clara County’s ban on contact sports amid a COVID-19 surge.
Levi’s Stadium opened last month as a vaccination site for county residents.
“Opening Levi’s Stadium as a mass vaccination site was just the first step in doing our part to protect our community,” 49ers president Al Guido said in a statement. “As vaccinations continue and preparations begin for the return of fans at Levi’s Stadium, we want to set the standard for safety, and this committee of esteemed medical experts will help us to do just that.”
State guidelines limit stadium capacity to 25 percent or less if counties drop below the orange or yellow reopening tiers. However, Santa Clara County health officials overruled the state and shuttered Levi’s Stadium to fans last season. The county announced last week it hoped to enter the red tier this Wednesday.
“With the help of this committee, we hope to make informed, equitable, and transparent choices to protect not just our fans but our employees and the local community as well. The members of this committee have spent the past 12 months on the frontlines of the COVID response and we look forward to leveraging the depth of their experience.”
The advisory committee includes:
— Dr. Robert “Bob” Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Wachter said: “We’ll eventually be returning to in-person events including live sports and it’s important that the way we do so is guided by science. It’s great to see Bay Area organizations like the 49ers taking the science seriously and I look forward to working with them on developing a sound plan that reinforces public health imperatives.”
— Mr. Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, parent of Dignity Health. Said Dean: “The committee will initially support the 49ers on the return of fans and employees, but the team is also committed to sharing the expert advice with other organizations in the Bay Area and beyond.”
— Dr. Monica Gandhi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital. Said Dr. Gandhi: “We’ll need to make sure the return of fans not only protects the fans but is safe for everyone involved — including the employees of Levi’s Stadium and the
— Dr. Lillian Brown, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF & San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Brown said; The more groups that operate under public health best practices, the better. I think the 49ers’ approach to be as open as possible with other teams interested in a safe return to their stadiums is great. Our aim is to produce important insights and determine protocols that can be used as standards for stadiums across the country.”