With Saratoga Race Course’s capacity still at 100 percent, with no enforced masking or proof-of-vaccination policy in place for fans coming into Travers week—historically, the busiest week/weekend during the annual summer meet—the New York Racing Association (NYRA) has updated its employee mask mandate due to an uptick in COVID cases in Saratoga County.
As the Times Union reported yesterday, NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna confirmed that the association had extended its masking mandate to all of its employees, regardless of vaccination status and where they were on the property. This also included any food vendors on the Saratoga Race Course property. NYRA had already had a mask mandate in place for those employees working indoors or in other public-facing situations, as well as those that remained unvaccinated. McKenna told the newspaper that the change in policy had been made due to the uptick in COVID cases in Saratoga, the surrounding region and across the State.
As of Monday morning, Saratoga County’s seven-day rolling average of COVID cases was at 4.2 percent, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s transmissibility scale a “high” rate of community transmission. This, after COVID cases in the Capital Region spiked to levels not seen since April last week. The highly contagious Delta variant is to blame for the majority of new cases and has proven to cause breakthrough COVID cases, or those that affect people who are fully vaccinated. Some 67 percent of residents in Saratoga County are fully vaccinated and 71.6 percent have received at least one jab.
In 2019, the last time a crowd was in the stands at Saratoga Race Course to witness a Travers Stakes, more than 48,000 people were in attendance. To put that into perspective, Opening Day this year drew 27,760 fans at the track.