The Cardinals will hear some cheering Sunday at State Farm Stadium, after the team got approval to have a small group of spectators -- made up of family and close friends of players, coaches and staff -- for the game against the Detroit Lions.
The permission from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health is meant to allow testing of "the implementation of health and safety protocols." The group will total no more than 750 people.
In a letter sent to the team this week, ADHS director Dr. Cara Christ wrote "this can be an important next step for fans safely returning to in-person viewing."
However, certain statewide COVID conditions must be met before any fans could be allowed at games. After Sunday, the Cardinals do not have another home game until Oct. 25 against the Seahawks.
The state is currently in the "moderate" category for COVID transmission, Christ wrote, and it is not recommended to allow fans at games until Arizona reaches the "minimal" category.
"Moderate" is defined as 10-100 cases per 100,000 people, 5-10% positivity rate and 5-10% COVID-like illness rate, while "minimal" is fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people, less than 5% positivity rate and less than 5% COVID-like illness rate.
The ADHS was OK with this week's test run "because attendance is limited to staff and family members (and) we feel it is a controlled group that likely already has significant contact with one another," Christ said.
Seats will be assigned for this small group in a socially-distanced manner on the west side of the stadium.