ODH urges caution, recommends masking for Bengals fans heading to Saturday’s game

DAYTON — Cincinnati Bengals fans are continuing their preparations ahead of the team’s return to the NFL playoffs for the first time in six seasons. But as those fans make their tailgate lists or watch party plans, state health health officials are urging fans to use the tools they have to prevent COVID-19 infections.

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Saturday’s Super Wild Card Weekend game against the Las Vegas Raiders is nearly a sellout with only a few tickets still available for purchase from the team. With a large turnout expected, the Ohio Department of Health reiterated Thursday for fans to mask-up when in large crowds, and get vaccinated and boosted.

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“If you are in a crowded space, we highly recommend face masks whether you are indoors or outdoors,” an ODH spokesperson said in a statement to News Center 7.

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“Come game day, if you have any cold-like symptoms, but you aren’t sure if it’s COVID, just assume it is. Stay home if you feel the least bit sick or if your doctor has advised that you may be at high risk for complications from COVID-19.”

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“At these playoff games…you’re going to be in so close contact with a lot of people and hopefully yelling and cheering,” Dr. Jennifer Wall Forrester, Infectious Disease Physician at UC Health said during an ODH news conference Thursday.

The pandemic and current COVID case and hospitalization surge comes as Bengals fans hope the team is on the verge of reversing a three-decade playoff win drought.

“I’m excited, been waiting for it. It’s been a long time since they’ve won a playoff game,” John Fisk told Price Thursday.

And the excitement is expected to draw several to area businesses to watch the game.

“We’re really excited we’re going to have all our staff dressed up in Bengals gear to help promote the big game. We’ve had good turnouts all year for the Bengals, Browns, Steelers…we’re expecting a really good turnout (Saturday),” Steven Sarles Assistant General Manager at Milanos said.