San Francisco 49ers Opener In Question Due To Wildfires, Poor Air Quality

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Despite poor air quality in Northern California from recent wildfires, the NFL is not expected to relocate or rescheduled Sunday’s San Francisco 49ers season opener at Levi’s Stadium, the Mercury News reported.

The wildfire crisis on the West Coast grew to a staggering scale Friday, as massive fires merged and bore down on towns and suburbs. State leaders pleaded for firefighting help, and tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate, the New York Times noted.

The fires have destroyed more than three million acres in California. In a Twitter posting, Gov. Gavin Newsom told residents to listen to evacuation orders, stressing the magnitude of the fire season. “Six of the 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020,” he said. “If you are asked to evacuate please do so immediately.”

Friday’s air quality index in Santa Clara reached 205 at 11 a.m., according to airnow.gov. The NFL threshold where league officials would contemplate postponing a game is 200. According to IQAir, levels are forecasted to reach 217 in Santa Clara on Sunday, which would mean the postponement of the 49ers matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 49ers are among some NFL teams that will start the season without fans in attendance.

In an interview on San Francisco radio station KNBR, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked how the air quality could impact the team.

“If it gets to 200 that would be a huge deal,” Shanahan said. “I know when it’s above 150 that does affect a certain group of people that happen to be higher risk, pre-existing conditions. If it got above 150 you could lose a few players. But 200 is the mark where you can’t go out there.”

League officials have the final say as to whether the game will be postponed. The NFL has yet to release a statement about the fate of the game. 

NBC Sports Bay Area has been told the 49ers and NFL have been in constant communication about the conditions for Sunday’s game. 

Studies have shown that when waves of smoke hit the rate of hospital visits rises and many of the additional patients experience respiratory problems, heart attacks and strokes. 

If exposed to wildfire smoke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting exposure to smoke by staying indoors with windows and doors closed, running air-conditioners in recirculation mode so that outside air isn’t drawn into your home, and wearing a mask to limit outside smoke exposure. 

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