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Cleveland area doctors say NFL Draft can be done safely amid ongoing pandemic

With strict guidelines in place, health officials don't believe it will be a super spreader event.

CLEVELAND — Thousands of fans have arrived in downtown Cleveland from near and far for the NFL Draft. But the NFL is serious about safety and will require protocols with everyone who steps into the NFL Draft Experience in Cleveland.

They’re expecting 50,000 people a day, but everyone must be properly masked. No face shields allowed if you’re not wearing a mask under it and no vented face masks either. Everyone aged two and up must have their mouths and noses covered at all times except when eating or drinking.

LIVE BLOG: Full coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland

Guests must keep the standard six feet of separation between strangers and watch for directional signage to help cut down on bottlenecks. There will be lots of markers and staff to remind you. Those who get in to actually watch the draft must be fully vaccinated and those closest to the stage are invitation-only and also fully vaccinated.

University Hospitals Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Claudia Hoyen said she planned to attend the draft on Thursday.

“I am going to the place where everyone is vaccinated, they are following the rules that they need to follow,” said Dr. Hoyen. “I will be masked up. When we are doing the right thing, we are keeping ourselves safe.”

Cleveland Clinic Pulmonologist Dr. Joseph Khabbaza says he does not anticipate the event to be a COVID-19 super spreader event and credits strict safety protocols in place from the NFL.

“I feel very comfortable overall about the draft and I'm a very low risk tolerant person throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Khabazza. “All the precautions put in place, the fact that's it's outdoors, I really have no concerns about it being a super spreader event from the way it's set up and way the NFL has handled it.”

Meantime, the city of Cleveland released recommendations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 during large gatherings and events including developing a social distance plan and conducting daily health checks at large events. Doctors say we know how to do events safely and we know that vaccines are key.

Dr. Hoyen said, “’We know how to keep ourselves safe, so let's do what we can to get as close to normal as possible. So I think if people do the right thing...we will be okay.”