Proof of vaccination against the coronavirus or a recent negative test will be required to attend LSU football games this season, the university announced Tuesday, making it by far the most powerful program in college sports to take that step.
All fans 12 and older will be required to show proof they’ve received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, or evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the game.
The university also announced a broad new vaccine requirement for students, giving them until Oct. 15 to show proof of full vaccination or submit to regular testing.
At least three other universities at college football’s top level will have similar vaccine mandates for games—Oregon, Oregon State and Tulane, which became the first program with a vaccine requirement after New Orleans’ citywide mandate went into effect last week.
102,321. That’s the listed capacity of LSU’s Tiger Stadium, which is regularly ranked as the most difficult stadium in college football for opponents to play in.
“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 game days, but long after guests have left Tiger Stadium,” LSU President William Tate IV said in a statement.
Louisiana was an early U.S. hot spot for the delta coronavirus variant, but cases are now starting to decline after officials issued a slew of new restrictions, in sharp contrast with other Southern states dealing with a delta-induced surge. On August 4, Louisiana became the first state to reimpose a statewide mask mandate, amid a record surge of Covid-19. On August 16, New Orleans became the first U.S. city to require vaccines for indoor activities like dining in a restaurant, enacting the mandate a day before a similar order went into effect in New York City. But the key to LSU’s decision was Monday’s news that the FDA had granted full approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine. University officials had said earlier this summer they planned to require Covid vaccinations for students once a vaccine was fully approved by the FDA.
New daily Covid cases have dropped by 13% over the past 14 days in Louisiana—the biggest drop of any state in the country, according to The New York Times, though the state is still second in the U.S. in new cases per capita, averaging 100 new cases daily for every 100,000 residents. Only Mississippi is higher, with 118 new cases per 100,000.
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LSU plays its home opener against McNeese State on Sept. 11. The Tigers are ranked No. 16 in The Associated Press college football poll.