ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With an increase of COVID cases and the quick spread of the Omicron variant, the University of New Mexico is practicing new COVID protocols at The Pit. Saturday was the first men’s Lobos basketball game with these rules in effect. As UNM men’s basketball team took on Utah State, fans needed to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at The Pit. One fan at the game says he believes these are precautions needed to keep people safe.

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“It’s rampant everywhere and you know we’ve got to nip it in the bud, so I think what UNM doing what they’re doing is the right thing. Maybe a little inconvenient for people but hey, that’s a price you gotta pay,” says Waldo Gutierrez. 

The women’s game on Monday was the first time fans needed to follow the new COVID mandate. Officials say it went well. An athletics department spokesperson said that at that game, 42 people took a test at the arena while everyone else was under 12 or had their vaccination card or negative test documents. 

On Friday, state health officials announced that New Mexico’s health department saw more than 4,000 new COVID cases and 14 more deaths. That’s why some fans say they want to see more people getting their vaccines. Jerone Mccann shares, “You’ve got to keep each and every one of us all safe. I’ve lost five members of my family from the virus.”

Lobo fans can also provide proof of a negative COVDI test. PCR tests must be within 72 hours and an antigen test must be within 24 hours of the event. Officials say at home COVID tests are not valid. 

The mandate will remain in place for all events at The Pit, at least through the end of the month when it will be reassessed. The next game at The Pit is Sunday, January 9. The women’s Lobos team is playing against San Diego State at 2 p.m.