Governors Halt High School Sports as Covid-19 Surges
Governors in several states are pulling back on high school and other youth sports as coronavirus infections surge, dismissing the argument that sports should continue because few kids and teenagers die of Covid-19.
Utah, Michigan, New Jersey and Illinois are among the states putting the brakes on such activities for now. Leaders emphasize that even if young athletes don’t suffer serious or lingering effects from the virus, they can pass it on to more vulnerable people who risk becoming gravely ill.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a former high school football coach, expressed alarm in a public briefing Tuesday, saying per-capita Covid-19 case growth in the Dakotas and Upper Midwest is the highest seen “during this whole pandemic anywhere on planet earth.” On Wednesday he announced a range of measures to slow the virus’s spread, including a four-week pause on organized youth sports.
There were 6,375 confirmed Covid-19 cases from June 1 to Nov. 7 in Minnesota in which the people infected said they had participated recently in sports activities, according to the state’s department of health. Those cases prompted the department to recommend that 12,937 household contacts enter quarantine.
But even the quarantine figure greatly underestimates the number of people who might have been exposed through sports because it excludes teammates, opposing teams and coaches, a health department spokesman said. Minnesota had 242,043 cumulative Covid-19 cases overall as of Wednesday.
“Shame on folks who say, ‘Well, only a few are getting sick,’” Gov. Walz said. “If it’s not you, then I guess it’s OK. The desire to have these kids play, I understand how strong that is. But we’re at the point now, there’s not going to be any coaches or referees or folks involved in this because it is spreading at a rate that is going to start impacting on huge numbers.”
Although high school sports leaders say they need more data before they conclude athletics are spreading the virus, state health departments say they’ve seen enough to take action.
In recent weeks, about a third of all community outbreaks in New Jersey have been traced back to sports teams, according to Edward Lifshitz, the medical director of the Communicable Disease Service for New Jersey’s Department of Health. Seven Northeast states have agreed to ban interstate youth hockey games and tournaments, citing cases of virus transmission linked to team activities: New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
新泽西州卫生部传染病服务中心(Communicable Disease Service for New Jersey‘s Department of Health)的医疗主管爱德华·利夫希茨(Edward Lifshitz)表示，最近几周，新泽西州约三分之一的社区疫情可以追溯到运动队。东北部的七个州已经同意禁止州际青少年曲棍球比赛和锦标赛，理由是与团队活动有关的病毒传播案例：新泽西州、缅因州、罗德岛州、新罕布夏州、佛蒙特州、康涅狄格州和马萨诸塞州。
The Illinois High School Association, which defied the governor’s announcement last month that he was putting sports on hold, on Tuesday recognized a statewide pause of indoor group sports and recreational activities set to start Friday. An order that took effect Wednesday in Michigan halted for three weeks all organized sports, except pro and college teams that meet steep risk-mitigation measures like testing all active players at least six times a week.
伊利诺伊州高中协会(Illinois High School Association)无视州长上个月宣布暂停体育活动的决定，周二承认，定于周五开始的全州范围内暂停室内集体运动和娱乐活动。周三在密歇根州生效的一项命令暂停了所有有组织的体育活动三周，除了职业和大学球队，这些球队符合严格的风险缓解措施，比如每周至少测试所有活跃球员六次。
The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday enacted a two-week freeze on indoor K-12 school sports, spurring a fresh round of discussion on the Facebook page for “Let Them Play!—Oregonians for Athletes,” a group with more than 26,000 members.
周三，俄勒冈州卫生局(Oregon Health Authority)颁布了一项为期两周的冻结K-12学校室内运动的法令，这在Facebook页面上引发了新一轮关于“让他们玩吧！--俄勒冈人为了运动员”的讨论。这个团体有2.6万多名成员。
Julian Cordle is an organizer of the group and a sports parent in the southern Oregon city of Eagle Point. He says that halting sports altogether risks harming young athletes mentally, socially and physically, and that most sports can take place with parental support of modifications and the right precautions.
朱利安·科德尔(Julian Cordle)是该组织的组织者，也是俄勒冈州南部城市鹰角(Eagle Point)的一名体育家长。他说，完全停止运动有可能对年轻运动员的心理、社会和身体造成伤害，而且大多数运动都可以在父母的支持下进行，并采取正确的预防措施。
The girls on the club soccer team his wife works with wear masks during all scrimmages and games, for instance, and avoid the kinds of social gatherings that are known to spread the virus.
“We’re not going to be doing pizza after the game,” Cordle said.
Millions of young people in the U.S. participate in sports at some level, and even during the pandemic, some are crossing county and state borders to compete. Unlike NBA players who played in a restricted “bubble,” young athletes are riding in vehicles or otherwise coming into contact with people who might carry a higher risk of Covid-19 complications than they do.
Most of U.S. Youth Soccer’s 54 state associations are now holding league, club and team-based competitions, said Skip Gilbert, chief executive of the organization, which has about 2.7 million members. Although virus-prevention measures vary by location, USYS, like most other youth and high school leagues, doesn’t mandate testing, Gilbert said.
Without testing, leagues rely on prevention measures and on families to track player symptoms, which falls short of counting all infections, research suggests. Among nearly 2,000 U.S. Marine Corps recruits between ages 18 and 31 at the Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C., a strategy of symptom-monitoring missed nearly all cases of infection, according to a recent study.
研究表明，在没有检测的情况下，联盟依靠预防措施和家庭来追踪球员的症状，这还不足以计算所有的感染。根据最近的一项研究，在南卡罗来纳州查尔斯顿城堡军事学院(Citadel Military College)的近2000名年龄在18岁到31岁之间的美国海军陆战队新兵中，症状监测策略几乎漏掉了所有感染病例。
An estimated 40% of Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, according to the CDC, and recent research has found that younger adults are more likely to have mild or no symptoms.
College football teams show that frequent testing can bring frequent positives. In the past two weeks alone, 25 major-college games were canceled or postponed because of Covid-19 infections and resulting precautions to stop their spread.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently suspended high school sports and activities through this coming Monday, except for the state football playoffs, where players are being tested for Covid-19.
Officials at the Utah High School Activities Association are working on partnering with the state department of health to test athletes in winter sports, a spokesman said. That could make it the first state to comprehensively test high school athletes.