Following the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball game against Georgia Tech on Monday night, head coach Jim Boeheim took the opportunity to campaign for the removal of mask mandates inside the Carrier Dome as Syracuse prepares to host Duke this Saturday.
In order to gain entry to the Carrier Dome this season, fans have been required to either show proof of vaccination or provide a negative covid test and have been expected to wear masks irrespective of vaccination status, unless eating or drinking.
Indoor mask mandates for businesses were lapsed effective Feb. 9 in the state of New York by Gov. Kathy Hochul, but mask mandates remained in place for schools. Mask mandates were similarly eased around the same time in Democratic-led states New Jersey and California, followed by Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon.
“Hopefully we can be like the rest of the country and come in here without masks Saturday. But I guess we just can’t do that,” Jim Boeheim said. “The whole country, all the students here wear masks to class then they go downtown, they go down to party and have no masks. There’s 400 people in a party. It’s crazy.”
On Friday, Feb. 18, Syracuse students were informed that the university would be moving its covid level from “red” to “blue” effective Monday, Feb. 21, which provides on-campus guidance on mask policy. Under level blue guidance, Masks must be worn at all-times, indoors and outdoors, for unvaccinated individuals and, for vaccinated individuals, masks are required during academic instruction as well as certain on-campus facilities. Masks are encouraged for vaccinated individuals when indoors on campus and outdoors in the presence of others.
According to the Onondaga County Health Department, there were 138 new covid cases in the county as of Feb. 18, down from a peak of 2,355 on Jan. 9. Total covid-related hospitalizations in Onondaga County stood at 98 as of Feb. 18, down from a peak of 257 on Jan. 19.
Syracuse will host Duke on Saturday which is expected to be the largest on-campus crowd of the season. The Syracuse basketball team has an average attendance of 18,955 across 14 games, down from an average of 21,704 in 2019-20 (there were no fans in 2020-21).
The Orange are 11-3 at home this season with Duke set to play Syracuse this Saturday in what will be Mike Kzyzewski’s final head coaching trip to the Carrier Dome. With the much-anticipated game looming, Boeheim was asked if he’d like to see fans come to the game against Duke without masks.
“I’d like to see it. I hope so. I think it’s about time,” Boeheim said.