A longtime vendor at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown has tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized after leaving the racetrack while feeling sick prior to a race last Thursday, his family and the racetrack confirmed.
Barry Skelly, who has operated Skelly’s Photo and Novelty Stand at Lincoln Speedway for more than 50 years, is at UPMC Memorial Hospital in York and receiving oxygen through a mask, according to his family. The 79-year-old had been attending dirt track races at Lincoln and Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg since the sport resumed competitions in recent months, according to his son, Mike.
He only operates a stand at Lincoln. The most recent race he attended prior to last Thursday was the July 18 contest he worked at the Abbottstown venue, according to Mike Skelly. According to the CDC, symptoms for COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Mike Skelly said dirt track races have been the only social events his father has attended recently.
Barry Skelly’s grandson, Dillon Mulroy, said his grandfather is receiving the maximum amount of oxygen possible through a mask, and that he will need to be moved to the ICU if it’s determined he needs more.
“We are getting good signs from the doctors or nurses when we speak to them, but we are nowhere out of the woods yet,” Mike Skelly said. “It’s difficult. You don’t know exactly what’s going on. Right now it’s just day by day.”
Mulroy said his mother — Barry’s daughter — took his grandfather to the emergency room Thursday night after he was feeling dehydrated and struggling to breathe while at his stand prior to the race.
He said his grandfather was not tested for COVID-19 that night, but returned to the hospital the next day after struggling with chest pains and a fever and was tested. He received a positive result by Saturday.
Mulroy said that employees at the novelty stand have been self-quarantining since his grandfather tested positive. He said that wasn’t due to guidance from Lincoln Speedway, but because “they are close with my grandfather and understand the risk.”
Lincoln Speedway released a statement Monday afternoon stating that “a vendor at the track was not feeling well and was tended to by EMTs. The vendor was transported to a local hospital” last Thursday.
Lincoln Speedway promoter and co-owner Jerry Parrish said the racetrack found out Saturday that Skelly had tested positive and that track employees and other vendors were notified.
Parrish said Skelly was “never under the same roof” as any other vendors and wouldn’t have interacted with fans last Thursday since he was taken to the hospital prior to the start of the event. Skelly’s stand will be closed for the foreseeable future.
“He was at the track prior to the race and he wasn’t feeling like himself,” Parrish said. “He was feeling dehydrated, (EMTs) tended to him and his daughter arrived to take him to the hospital. He was not exposed to any other vendors, so it’s good he didn’t work that night.”
Anyone attending races at Lincoln Speedway, including vendors, have been required to sign a waiver accepting the health risks of attending a large event since the track reopened at the end of May.
According to state restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor gatherings in Pennsylvania are limited to 250 or less people. The state is requiring that individuals wear masks in “any indoor spaces and any outdoor spaces where people are unable to follow social distancing.” People may be fined if they do not comply.
Parrish said that Lincoln Speedway is suggesting to fans that they wear masks when attending races and that they’ve put up a billboard at the track stating the same thing. When asked if the majority of fans attending races have been wearing masks, he said “the ones that want to are, and the ones that don’t want to don’t” and declined to comment further.
When asked if races at Lincoln have had more than 250 fans in attendance, Parrish also declined to comment.
Mulroy said that he and his family had asked his grandfather not to attend races recently due to concerns that he could get sick if people weren’t wearing masks or social distancing around him.
“I know my mom and my uncle had talked to him about not going,” Mulroy said. “It’s a really tough time for my family right now. We’re all very worried.”
Lincoln Speedway is scheduled to host a race at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.
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