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As COVID-19 cases rise, Garth Brooks has a big decision to make

Garth Brooks is reassessing his stadium tour that stopped in Salt Lake City on July 17

SHARE As COVID-19 cases rise, Garth Brooks has a big decision to make
Country music superstar Garth Brooks performs at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in 2021.

Country music superstar Garth Brooks performs at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Due to rising COVID-19 cases across the country, Brooks is reassessing his stadium tour.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Two-and-a-half weeks after he sprinted back and forth on a large stage in Utah, sweating in 90-plus degree heat as he did his best to sing every fan request in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of more than 50,000 people, Garth Brooks is reassessing his stadium tour.

The reevaluation comes amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. For now, Brooks is still scheduled to play his upcoming sold-out shows in Kansas City and Lincoln, Nebraska, on Aug. 7 and Aug. 14. But during the three-week break that follows, he will make a decision regarding his tour dates in the fall, The Associated Press reported.

Local officials in Jackson County, Kansas, have expressed concerns over the Aug. 7 show.

“I was sitting here thinking that — why don’t we just cancel the concert? We might save 10 (thousand) to 15,000 lives there, I don’t know,” said Jackson County legislator Ron Finley earlier this week, according to the Kansas City Star.

A new mask mandate — following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — went into effect for Kansas City on Monday, but doesn’t apply to outdoor spaces, the Kansas City Star reported. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has said the city’s health department will have a vaccination clinic set up at the stadium ahead of Brooks’ concert, entering people who choose to get vaccinated into a raffle for a seat upgrade, according to the Kansas City Star.

Since resuming touring in July, Brooks has encouraged fans to follow health guidelines. At his Salt Lake City concert on July 17, a video that showed the singer asking guests to be respectful about masks aired multiple times before the show.

“Make your own rules up, too,” Brooks said earlier this week, according to the Kansas City Star. “You can’t be safe enough. You can’t be cautious enough. Keep your space. Keep your distance.”

The country superstar has already halted ticket sales for his show in Seattle on Sept. 4, saying he doesn’t know “what is going to happen to concerts at this point,” according to the Seattle Times.

“It breaks my heart to see city after city go on sale and then have to ask those sweet people and the venues to reschedule,” Brooks said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “We have a three-week window coming up where we, as a group, will assess the remainder of the stadium tour this year. It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist, and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”

Although just a few shows into his stadium tour, Brooks has made it clear that he has a passion for performing and loves his fans. He spends a portion of every show reading off concert signs and posters, and playing song requests from fans. And while performing for a sold-out crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, he promised the crowd that he would add a second show at the venue before his stadium tour concluded in the summer of ’22, the Deseret News reported.

“All I can think about are those people who waited as long as you and they didn’t get a ticket,” he told his excited Utah audience. “Before this stadium tour ends, I would like to come back here!”

Depending on the pandemic’s trajectory, Utah fans may have to wait a little longer than anticipated for the return.