Arnold Sports Festival back in Ohio’s capital | National/International

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Arnold Sports Festival, one of the nation’s largest such festivals, returns to Ohio’s capital next week, two years after becoming one of the first and greatest economic victims of the pandemic.

Founded in 1989 as a bodybuilding competition by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the annual festival has since grown into a giant affair that includes weightlifting, running, martial arts, table tennis and rope skipping, among many many other sports. Each year, it draws tens of thousands of participants and spectators to Columbus with an economic impact of over $50 million.

Ohio had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and was monitoring a person who showed signs of illness when, on March 5, 2020, Dr. Amy Acton, then director of the state health department announced strict limitations on Arnold’s attendance.

This ordinance limited spectators to parents or guardians of minors attending the festival and also allowed attendance at certain weekend events, including the men’s and women’s physical finals. It was one of the first aggressive actions taken by GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who soon became the first governor of either party. close schools.

At the time, DeWine said the Arnold was different from other events because most competitions were general admission, not single ticket.

Arnold’s sports festival was canceled last year, although a small bodybuilding competition was held in September. It returns as a full event next week; a Columbus-wide mask mandate will still apply.

Since March 2020, the state has seen over 2.6 million cases of COVID-19, including over 112,000 hospitalizations and over 36,200 deaths.

Cases soared in December and January as the omicron variant spread across the state. But the number of cases has dropped in recent weeks.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has not increased in the past two weeks, from 3,472.86 new cases per day on February 9 to 1,355.86 new cases per day on February 23. February, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Nonetheless, current Chief Health Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff continues to urge people to follow mask mandates as they apply and to consider getting a vaccine. About 57% of Ohio’s population, or about 6.7 million people, are fully immunized.

No county in Ohio is still below the rate of 50 cases per 100,000 population, considered the lower threshold for widespread transmission, Vanderhoff said.

“COVID-19 is still a real presence in Ohio, and while we look forward to declaring everything clear, the data still urges caution and tells us we’re not there yet,” Vanderhoff says. Thursday.

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