Contact tracing reveals Astros games aren't super spreader events, but be cautious at these places

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When fans returned to the stands this season at Minute Maid Park, health leaders worried the gatherings could become super spreader events, but it turns out that wasn't the case.

For the first time in two years, fans are back at the ballpark for playoff baseball.

"It feels normal," Astros fan Dora Cordova said. "Back to normal."

The normal feeling revived the park in April when fans were welcomed back, but asked to wear masks. However, the majority of those who showed up to the park didn't.

Later, officials with the Astros removed the mask mandate and opened Minute Maid Park to full capacity.

Health experts say despite the decision, COVID-19 cases did not spike among guests who visited.

"I have to admit, we've not seen the major sporting events being the super spreader events that we had feared," Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse said. "We are hearing about cases where people are becoming infected at large gatherings, not necessarily sporting events."

If it's not sporting events, then where are people possibly catching COVID-19?

The city's health department conducts contact tracing.

Officials have compiled a top ten list from data taken last month, showing the places people reported visiting before testing positive for the virus.

The top places were the grocery store, any event indoors with ten or more people, a restaurant, mall, and public transportation.

Also making the list are bars, funerals, parties, churches and large outdoor events.

Even if you're fully vaccinated, health officials say if you're around people, you should still wear a mask.

"I wear a mask," Persse said. "Yup, I wear a mask. I do get some sideways looks, but I made the commitment to my family we're not bringing the virus home to our house."

The park gave fans masks as they entered Thursday. A few fans were seen wearing them during the game.

As the playoff push continues, health leaders encourage fans to wear face coverings so ballgames can continue to be a relatively safe place.

"If you want to make that commitment to your family, you should wear a mask in a crowded setting, or watch the game on TV," Persse said. "It's up to you."

Health experts say opening Minute Maid Park's roof would help with circulation, and the large attendance.

Despite the nice weather, the roof has been closed for both playoff games so far.

For more on what's happening at Minute Maid Park, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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