Earlier this week, two Washington, D.C. high school football powers clashed on the gridiron. But the game between St. John’s and Gonzaga did not take place in D.C. Nor was it played outdoors.
Instead, the game was held at an indoor facility across the river in Northern Virginia.
Why? Because Muriel Bowser, the mayor of D.C., did not allow the teams to square off in the city.
I’ve tried to understand how her decision promotes public health, but am at a loss. I must be missing something.
The evidence is that it’s harder to contract the virus outdoors than indoors. If Bowser had permitted the game to played at St. John’s or Gonzaga, it would have taken place outdoors. Because she didn’t, it was played indoors, increasing the likelihood that players and officials will become infected.
The players, all in their teens, are at no meaningful risk from the virus. If there’s a risk, it’s to older people — teachers, parents, grandparents — who come into contact with them in the coming days.
Holding the game in Virginia does nothing to reduce that risk. After the game, the players will return to their homes in D.C. or wherever the live, just as they would have if the game had been played in the District. If they attend class, they will attend it in D.C.
So how did prohibiting the teams from playing in D.C. enhance public health in the District or anywhere else? If anything, because the teams ended up playing indoors, the mayor has marginally increased the health risk to D.C. residents.
The numbers show that new cases of the coronavirus in D.C. is about half of what it was at the beginning of the year. The daily death count has dropped at least as dramatically. Only two to three deaths per day are being attributed to the virus now.
Yet, some people around here are still behaving as if we were in the midst of the Black Death. Mayor Bowser’s decision regarding high school football seems like both a symptom and a cause of the sustained panic.