Rise in COVID-19 cases brings questions about future entertainment, sporting events in Knox County

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With a nearly 200% rise in COVID-19 cases in Knox County reported Wednesday, concertgoers and sports fans may be growing worried about future events they planned on attended.

Tom Satkowiak, associate athletic director for communications with the University of Tennessee, told WATE 6 On Your Side that the athletic department is prepared for changes that may come.

“We are continually monitoring state and local health data as we approach the fall sports season, and our gameday policies will be determined based on guidance from public health experts, campus leadership and the SEC Medical Task Force,” Satkowiak said in a written statement. “The past year has taught us the importance of adaptability, as the policies in place when our teams begin hosting events later this month may change and evolve as the academic year progresses.”

Currently, UT plans to allow full capacity at Neyland Stadium this coming fall.

As for the Tennessee Smokies, general manager Tim Volk says they plan to stay consistent with Major League Baseball.

“We are following MLB and local guidelines when it comes to mask updates, player/fan restrictions, etc.,” Volk wrote in an email to WATE. “As you know, these guidelines can change weekly and we continue to monitor the stance of MLB and our local guidelines.”

Becky Hancock, executive director at the Tennessee Theatre, said she and her staff will take things one day at a time.

“We are just keeping an eye on things, we are keeping informed by public health authorities, we’re keeping informed by artists, what touring artists are going to want or expect,” Hancock said. “We don’t have any touring shows for another few weeks, so what we’re doing is making sure that we’re making the best decisions that we can make today and really not looking too far into the future.”

Hancock said after the first wave of the coronavirus closed the theatre for more than a year, they’ve all learned to be a little more flexible. “We need to be nimble, we need to be well-informed, and we need to be able to act quickly, but not act too far in the future.”

Hancock said right now masking up is optional at the Tennessee Theatre. She said throughout the summer they’ve hosted their Summer Movie Night events and been able to keep visitors socially distanced. However, they’ll continue to monitor the pandemic and make changes as need.

Hancock said she is feeling optimistic about the year ahead.

“We got through last year, we’re going to get through this next phase, we believe that,” Hancock said. “Hope that we get through this with flying colors, I’m sure we will.”

Hancock encourages anyone who is planning on visiting the Tennessee Theatre to check their website for the most up to date guidelines.

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