Kentucky Derby 147

Kentucky Derby 147

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As vaccinations continue and pandemic restrictions ease, large events across the United States are beginning to return with crowds. 

This year's Kentucky Derby brought more than 50,000 guests to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The local health department is working to track cases coronavirus, but health leaders said the city has yet to see a spike from it. 

Dr. Sarah Moyer, with Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness, said there's been a "handful" of cases from people who were in the "infectious period" while they attended Derby.

"It would've been better had the infectious people known about their infection, because it's possible they may not have known," said Dr. Mark Burns, an infectious disease specialist with UofL Health. "They may have been totally asymptomatic. I'm not sure of their vaccine status, but of course, everybody should be vaccinated."

Moyer said Louisville reported more than 660 new COVID-19 cases last week. She said in a majority of cases reported, people said they had gone to an event like a wedding, funeral, prom or gathering with friends and family. Moyer said the second-highest factor was travel.

Doctors are encouraging people who are not fully vaccinated to get tested before going to any type of event where there could be a crowd. 

Moyer said because of people getting vaccinated, events like Derby and other large events can happen. 

"I think it's a sign that vaccines and masks and spacing work," she said. "And if you don't have all three, if you at least have the vaccine, that works great."

The Indianapolis 500 is coming up on May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Last year, the race was pushed to August, and there were no fans. This year, it's marking a milestone for the entire country. 

"We don't know of any other events that are larger than the Indy 500 that have taken place since the pandemic started," said Doug Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "And so we really do believe this is the biggest in the country and we think probably the biggest in the world."

He said this race comes with responsibility. 

"We know we have to make sure we are doing it in a safe manner and we're hoping what we can do is just really prove that it's time for the world to get back toward more normal activities," Boles said.

He said many of the safety guidelines that will be enforced are modeled after what was seen at this year's Derby. 

"We paid an awful lot of attention to how the Kentucky Derby did their protocols and we have a lot of the same protocols," he said. "We actually are closing some of our infield mound areas and having a smaller footprint in the infield, so similar to the Kentucky Derby."

Boles said masks will be required at the Indy 500, and despite the large crowd expected to attend, numbers are at limited capacity. 

"Even though 135,000 seems like a lot to most folks, we're still 60% less than we normally have," he said.

Local doctors said they believe this upcoming summer will look much more like the ones we're used to.

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