PANOLA CO., Miss. — As COVID cases continue to rise in the Mid-South and across the nation, many football fans are refusing to let the pandemic interfere with the high school football playoffs.
Panola is not one of the 15 Mississippi counties currently dealing with more stringent government mandated COVID restrictions.
So, when South Panola played their game Friday night against Hernando, the stadium was allowed to be half full.
And while social distancing and facial coverings are highly recommended, they were not required in the stands.
Fans we spoke with say they try to follow COVID guidelines even if it’s not mandated by the government.
“This is something new for us now, maintaining a distance, having to have a mask, remembering to get those, but I know it’s for our well-being,” said Lydia Perteet-Sanford, a mother of an athlete.
In Panola County, there haven’t been any emergency-level outbreaks, and Governor Tate Reeves hasn’t mandated any restrictions here.
So, at this game, some fans — both Hernando and South Panola — were distant and wearing masks, while others chose to go without facial covers and ignored social distancing guidelines.
There are still three more playoff rounds ahead. People here say they’re aware of the risk, and so far, they’re still being given the option to choose how to respond.
So, for now in Mississippi, playoff football will continue.
According to data posted earlier Friday, Panola County has now recorded almost 1,900 positive COVID tests since the beginning of the pandemic.