By Audra Streetman

PUEBLO, Colo. (CBS4) – No fans will be allowed at this year’s high school football championship games, Colorado health officials announced on Wednesday night. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced new restrictions in response to widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Pueblo County.

Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl (credit: Colorado State University Pueblo)

Experts at the Colorado School of Public Health estimate that 1 in 29 people in Pueblo and surrounding areas are currently contagious with the virus. The county is currently under Level Red restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

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The Colorado High School Activities Association announced that all seven state football championship games will be held at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo. It will be the first time all state championships will be held at the same location.

“Our administrators always advocate for the full high school experience and although disappointing, we support these tough decisions,” said Rhonda Blanford-Green, Colorado High Schools Activity Association Commissioner. “Season A football for 218 schools that competed this fall and approval of the culminating championships in these unprecedented and tumultuous times, would not have been possible without the support of CDPHE, state and county officials.”

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Pueblo County was granted a variance to hold the championship games on Nov. 4. The variance was modified on Wednesday to limit attendance to football teams, athletic staff, cheerleaders, band members, broadcast staff and other essential personnel.

“We appreciate the ongoing partnership with the Colorado High School Activities Association as we navigate these tough times,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE. “Early in the season, our organizations both agreed that additional safety measures like these might need to be taken, and now unfortunately we are there. These decisions aren’t made lightly, but they’re necessary.”

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CDPHE will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Pueblo over the week. If conditions worsen, officials said they may need to revisit the modified variance.

Audra Streetman