LSU becomes first SEC school to require COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for fans at home games

·2 min read

If you want to go to an LSU game this fall, you need to have your COVID-19 vaccine or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

LSU announced Tuesday that all fans at home games this year must show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test within 72 hours of kickoff. The move is designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow LSU to have as close to a full stadium as possible during the 2021 season. 

The mandate applies to all attendees 12 and older. LSU is the first SEC school to announce a vaccination or negative test mandate.

“As the flagship institution of the state of Louisiana, our foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of our students, our supporters, and our community,” LSU president William Tate said in a school statement. “While we are aware of the diverse perspectives across the nation regarding masks and vaccinations, we must take all reasonable measures to protect our campus and community, not only on gamedays, but long after guests have left Tiger Stadium. The current threat to our lives, our health, and to our medical systems due to COVID-19 is overburdening our hospitals, and we must do our part to stop the spread.”

SEC states lag in vaccination rate

Louisiana is one of the least-vaccinated states in the United States and, not coincidentally, one of the states seeing lots of COVID-19 cases per capita as the Delta variant spreads. According to the New York Times’ data, just 40% of Louisiana adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 57 people for every 100,000 residents in the state is hospitalized due to COVID-19.

It seems likely that other SEC schools will follow LSU’s lead, especially since the SEC’s geographical footprint is the area where COVID-19 is currently the most prevalent. Mississippi and Alabama trail Louisiana in vaccination rate at 37% and Arkansas and Georgia are right there with Louisiana at 40%. Tennessee is just ahead at 41%.

Ideally, the ability to attend football games will be an impetus for people in Louisiana and other states to get vaccinated against COVID-19. LSU isn’t the first Power Five school in the country to implement a mandate like this for fans, but it’s the most significant mandate so far given the circumstances in the state.

We’ll see who announces a similar mandate next in the SEC. And don't be surprised if mandates like this become the norm across college football this fall unless there's a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases. 

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