‘COVID’s driving the bus’ as high schools sports play the waiting game

As the prospects of starting prep football practice in December grew dimmer with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, California’s public health secretary Friday said his office is close to releasing guidelines for high school and youth sports.

“Stay tuned, it will come out soon,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary.

Speaking during a video presentation about how the state is confronting the spike in cases, Ghaly said his office is holding conversations with the stakeholders of high school and youth sports before releasing a plan. Ghaly said public health officials want to make sure they understand what is possible while “respecting the fact we are seeing a surge in cases.”

The start of the California high school sports season was pushed back to December in hopes that medical researchers would create a vaccine or treatment to let people return to their regular activities. So far, the timetable seems premature as national health leaders say a vaccine might not be ready until late spring at the earliest.

Now the proposed start of the football season is coming just as state and local authorities tighten restrictions to help stop the rising numbers exploding across the country. Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Friday that her county could fall into the purple tier — the most restrictive in the state’s reopening system — if the surge is not under control in the coming weeks.

“COVID is driving the bus,” said Brad Metheany, Santa Clara Valley Athletic League commissioner.

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Metheany, whose league includes 14 county schools, said coaches, athletic directors and administrators are willing to change their schedule quickly to let students play.

“As we stand right now the state, the governor has to declare we can have competitive athletics,” he said. “Until that step occurs, we’re a no go.”

And once state public health officials announce guidelines, then schools must wait for directions from the California Interscholastic Federation, county public health officers and district superintendents, Metheany said.

Although teenagers are in a lower risk category than older adults, school officials say they understand the ramifications of a campus outbreak.

Monta Vista-Cupertino football coach Ceazar Agront said the Matadors had a scare about three weeks ago when a player tested positive for COVID-19.

Agront said Friday that the rest of his players tested negative for a virus that has led to more than 240,000 deaths in the United States. California this week passed the 1 million mark for the number of coronavirus cases, officials reported.

“It happened to one kid that doesn’t show up to practice that much,” said Agront, adding that the player’s entire family contracted the virus. “He came out one day and started feeling symptoms,” the coach said.

Agront said the rest of his players were protected because of the protocols in place for team practices. He said the Matadors are together in small groups, wear face masks and keep the proper social distance. High school teams are not allowed …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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