Cardinals Home Opener 2021: hundreds of stadium staff, team employees vaccinated

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — There’s been quite an effort to get Cardinals and Busch Stadium staff vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for Thursday’s home opener.

“I would feel comfortable being inside of a stadium and enjoying a ballgame,” said Alvin Vesey after coming out of the Cardinals Team Store at Busch Stadium, Wednesday.

His family is visiting St. Louis from Davenport, Iowa.

Still, fans have concerns now they did not have the last time they were allowed in Busch Stadium for Cardinals baseball, which was during the 2019 playoffs.

Opening Day 2021 comes with concerns about COVID-19 and who’s been vaccinated.

Though you may not know whether any other fans have gotten their shots, stadium workers, from those who scan your tickets at the gate, to those who show you to your seat and serve you hot dogs, have likely been vaccinated against the virus.

“All of the stadium employees, at least the vast majority, have been vaccinated by now,” said Gregory Brentano, Chief Executive Officer of South City Hospital in South St. Louis.

More than 300 Cardinals and stadium workers had gotten their shots at the hospital, he said.

He offered to help the team in January but the Cardinals were adamant that first responders and front-line workers go first, which they did.

Now, with Opening Day upon us and the city health department allowing fans at Busch Stadium up to 32% of capacity (more than 14,000 fans), the ballpark has become part of the COVID-19 “front line” in St. Louis.

“We felt it was quite important to get the baseball team and the people who for the baseball team, the cardinals, vaccinated quickly before Opening Day to make sure the people who got to the games, the fans, have an enjoyable experience but also know they’re safe; that the people who are giving them the tickets, selling them the hot dogs and sodas, have been fully vaccinated and are safe,” Brentano said.

“That would add to the comfort level,” Vesey said.

“Everybody’s going to have to wear a mask,” said stadium worker Darrell Holsapple, who was actually vaccinated in Florida before returning to St. Louis for Cardinals baseball. “We will, too. Even though we’ve been vaccinated, we’ll wear a mask.”

“It’s baseball. It’s baseball and it’s back,” said stadium worker, Joyce Bradford, who like Holsapple was vaccinated in Florida. “We’re ready. That’s all I can say is we’re ready to go… shots and all.”

The hospital began by offering shots to workers 65 and older before expanding as vaccine supplies grew.

It has also provided vaccinations for adults with Down Syndrome and their caregivers, through the Albert Pujols Foundation.

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