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Moritz: Meeting with MBA went well

NEW ULM — Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz said her meeting with members of the Minnesota Baseball Association last Friday regarding issues concerning the Minnesota State Baseball Association Tournament to be held in New Um and Springfield in late August “went very well.”

Moritz also said that she, along with tournament chairmen from New Ulm and Springfield, met earlier and did a walkthrough of Johnson and Mueller Parks in New Ulm and Riverside Park in Springfield.

“Those walkthroughs went very well,” she said. “It is always good to see when we are trying to make a plan.”

Moritz did express a concern at the July 7 meeting of the New Ulm City Council about health issues with the number of people potentially coming to the games.

(Editor’s note: The city council approved the use of Johnson and Mueller parks for the tournament by a 3-2 vote, but it is holding a special meeting today to reconsider that decision.)

“As a public health director, any time there is a large gathering we have some concerns about COVID-19 spread so I am not sure I am extremely comfortable with those events right now,” she said. “But my initial concern about any of those large events is that they are able to follow the guidance that is out there because I feel that the guidance that we have for outdoor events like this is pretty good to help prevent the spread. We all knew that when we opened up that there was going to be a spread of COVID-19. But we are just trying to make sure that it is limited and we try our very best to prevent it. My main concern was that as we work through this that some of the things that we can get mitigated or to lessen the spread are put into place.

“That was my concern through this whole thing and I feel better as I looked at the fields and been able to talk with the people that are going to be in charge. There is some real intention to make it go as well as you can. But you cannot control human behavior, so that is why I have always asked the public to be respectful of the plans and guidance that has been put into place for these events.”

Moritz said that social distancing is very important.

“Science has now shown that wearing a mask is certainly helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 so we are asking and encouraging everyone to wear a mask,” she said. “We have also asked that fans coming to the games be told that social distancing will be required.”

Moritz said that it is easy to forget in a state tournament environment.

“I cannot predict the future,” Moritz said. “Viruses make their own decision and we have about a month before the tournament starts so we do not know what kind of activity we will have then. A lot has changed in the last 30 days with COVID-19 virus. We have seen that social distancing and masking are much better at reducing the spread in large groups. There is a risk — I do not disagree with that and with this amount of people, I think that if the plan is followed and most people respect it we can reduce the amount of COVID-19 spread unless something changes with the virus and then things could completely change.

“I know that our community is very concerned about this as I am so I have reached out and had some communication with the Minnesota Department of Health.”

Moritz did say that over the next month there is an opportunity for Governor Walz “to make a lot of decisions about what is happening depending on what the virus does in our state. But it could also get better.”

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