Shelby prepares for American Legion World Series amid COVID-19 concerns

SHELBY, N.C. — Several large events are scheduled to take place soon despite concerns over the COVID-19 situation worsening.

The American Legion World Series is set to take place at Keeter Stadium in Shelby from Aug. 12-17, which could be a lifeline for many businesses trying to rebound from last year.

The rate of positive cases in Cleveland County is currently at 16%, which is up from 10% two weeks ago. County health officials told Channel 9 that the metrics are concerning, but people will still be allowed to gather for the baseball tournament.

Health leaders are asking people to get vaccinated if they can, in order to provide the best protection; or at least wear a mask and practice social distancing.

None of those protocols will be required at Keeter Stadium, but health officials said the delta variant has made staying safe very difficult, so organizers, along with Atrium Health, are turning one of the event’s hospitality tent into a vaccination clinic on Sunday and possibly a few other days.

“We are in strenuous times as far as health is concerned,” organizer Eddie Holbrook said. “It’s just accelerated, and we want to do something to show we are trying to be proactive.”

Deputy director of the Cleveland County Public Health Center DeShay Oliver says almost every county in the state is at a high alert level, but many are still hosting events attracting thousands of people while a far more threatening strain of the COVID-19 virus is spreading quickly.

Next weekend, the Carolina Panthers will host their first preseason game at Bank of America Stadium, while Blumenthal Performing Arts has a long slate of events on its calendar, including the popular Broadway musical “Wicked,” which opens in early September.

“One person on average would transmit it to two and a half other people, whereas with delta the average is about six people,” Oliver said.

According to health officials, events such as these can be safe as long as people take precautions, including getting vaccinated at least one week before the event.

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