Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said his team has not received "much help" from Gov. Tim Walz when asked about the news that the Vikings will not be allowed to have any fans in U.S. Bank Stadium for the rest of the season due to COVID-19.
"We kind of anticipated that that's the way it was going to go. We weren't getting much help from the governor," said Zimmer. "That's what the rules are, just like everything else this year with the COVID protocols and everything else. We'll just deal with it and try to do our best."
The 250-person limit on gatherings was imposed by Walz earlier in the year and has remained in place despite other restrictions being loosened.
But according to the statement the Vikings released Wednesday, the decision to go without more than 250 fans at home games was based on medical guidance, not anything Walz said.
"While we have worked hard to develop a safe and responsible plan to bring back a limited number of fans, our decisions have been based on medical guidance with public health as the top priority. We take seriously Minnesota’s rising COVID infection rates and increasing hospitalizations and believe closing the final four home games to fans is the right decision to help protect our community," the statement said.
Minnesota's COVID-19 situation is rapidly escalating, with a single-day record 7,228 new cases reported Thursday. So far in November there have been 336 deaths from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, compared to 423 in all of October.
The state's hospitals are also rapidly filling with more COVID-19 patients. On Oct. 24 there were 580 people with COVID-19 hospitalized throughout Minnesota. That number, as of Nov. 10, was more than doubled at 1,299, including 282 patients in intensive care.
Zimmer said playing at U.S. Bank Stadium without fans has changed everything "tremendously."
"The energy level typically isn't the same without fans, so I think that's kind of why. It's like when we played, whoever it was – we didn't play very good – it was dead in the stadium."
The Vikings' last four home games are:
- Nov. 22 vs. Dallas Cowboys
- Nov. 29 vs. Carolina Panthers
- Dec. 6 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Dec. 20 vs. Chicago Bears