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County officials address concerns about seating at Red Wings games.

James Brown

The division between vaccinated and unvaccinated people for upcoming Red Wings’ games is drawing some mixed reactions on social media.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated can sit next to each other at outdoor venues, like ballparks, instead of being 6 feet apart, anyone not vaccinated will sit in a separate area, with 6 feet of social distancing required. 

Rochester Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason said Frontier Field will implement this new COVID-19 protocol starting opening day, May 18, even though the new law goes into effect on May 19. The team was granted a waiver from the state to enforce the rule a day before.

The seating arrangement is getting backlash on social media with most complaints saying the separation could be a violation of federal privacy laws, or HIPAA.

During the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said attending a baseball game is not medical care, it’s voluntary.

“I don't think that this is really an issue of privacy, or HIPAA, or freedom,” said Mendoza, “This is really about taking care of one another, allowing baseball to proceed and doing so safely as we can.”

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Mendoza said vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19, or transmit it to others.

As far as baseball is concerned, Mendoza said it’s about enjoying the game in a section full of people without having to worry. 

Baseball is not the only sport that is getting the green light, youth ice hockey can restart. The County Health Department suspended youth ice hockey on April 5, after an uptake in positive COVID-19 cases was linked back to the sport.

Games, competitions, tournaments, scrimmages, and practice for public and private school ice hockey teams and ice hockey club teams can resume.

Mendoza said the decline in cases along with a new plan of action that includes strict masking and installation of signage that reinforces protocols influenced the county’s decision.

“I am pleased that we are able to find a way to get our kids back into doing what they love to do,” said Mendoza, “Hockey is clearly a higher-risk sport here in Monroe County from the standpoint of COVID-19, and I am confident that the measures that we are putting into place now will go a long way toward preventing our kids from contracting and spreading the COVID-19 illness.”

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
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