As COVID-19 outbreaks cancel other college bowl games, fans who have convened in San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl say they're cautiously optimistic the game won't end up being scrapped prior to its Wednesday 8:15 p.m. kickoff.
This year's game, a matchup between the University of Oregon Ducks and the University of Oklahoma Sooners, has already pulled fans of both teams into downtown San Antonio.
“Oregon has a lot of injuries, and a lot of players are transferring and leaving since Coach [Mario] Cristobal left,” said University of Oklahoma senior Connor Haigh as he waited for a table on the River Walk. “They already have a low roster, so if the Ducks get any COVID cases, they’re done.”
Three of this season's bowl games have already been scrapped, including the Fenway Bowl, the Military Bowl and most recently the Holiday Bowl, which was canceled hours before kickoff after players on the University of California, Los Angeles roster tested positive. The Sun Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Gator bowl were postponed while the NCAA hunted for teams to replace the University of Miami, University of Hawaii and Texas A&M, who are also coping with outbreaks.
“Definitely, leading up to it with all the bowl cancellations I was a little worried,” said lifelong Ducks fan Steven Hakun as he dined along the San Antonio River. “But I haven’t heard any problems, COVID-wise, coming out of the Oregon or Oklahoma programs.”
Though concerned about their football teams, most pub crawlers present at the crowded River Walk on Tuesday night said they weren't concerned about catching COVID-19 themselves.
“It’s so much better to just live with it,” said Steven Hakun's mother, Cathy, who flew in from Maryland to attend the game. “This whole thing is blown way out of proportion. I’m not worried at all, and I’m not going to live in fear. We’re just going to have a good time.”
The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases in Texas is up 15% from a month ago, and yesterday, San Antonio and several other Texas cities have exhausted their supplies of the monoclonal antibody treatment effective against the omicron variant.
In response to the surge, San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District strongly encourages those who haven't yet been vaccinated to get their jabs. It also recommends those who have been vaccinated, especially those who are immunocompromised, to receive a booster shot.
“Now that the winter season has officially arrived, we want residents to be protected from COVID-19 as well as the flu,” Metro Health Director Claude A. Jacob said in a press release. “As the weather gets colder and we remain indoors more often, getting vaccinated is important. Let’s take care of our loved ones and continue to follow the guidelines so we can remain healthy this holiday season. If you feel sick, please stay home. We are hosting several pop-up clinics this week where you can get a COVID vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time.”
The COVID-19 positivity rate in San Antonio is 2.2%, and the case rate is 13 per 100,000 people, even though 86% of the city’s population has received at least one dose of an FDA approved vaccine.
As of press time, there have been no COVID-19 related announcements from the Sooners or the Ducks. Tickets for the game are still available.
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