Youth sports are spreading Covid-19, health officials warn

Extracurricular activities are creating groups where the coronavirus can spread among children, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We know that these increases are due, in part, to more highly communicable variants, which we are monitoring very closely,” Walensky said Monday at the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.

The virus was linked to high school wrestling tournaments in Florida last December, where 38 people tested positive, according to a CDC report released in January.
In Minnesota, SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 spread through Carver County with at least 68 cases related to youth sports activities, such as hockey, wrestling and basketball, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
This variant of the new coronavirus, which was originally found in the UK, is about 50% more transmissible than other strands of the virus in the US, the researchers reported in the journal Cell in March.
The CDC recommends that children limit youth participation in sports and follow specific guidelines when participating in such activities. The organization listed nearly a dozen different recommendations, including minimizing the time spent indoors and reducing the amount of time players spend in close contact with each other.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, warned of the spread of Covid-19 among children participating in youth sports.

“We are discovering that it is the team sports where the kids gather, obviously many without masks, that drive it, rather than in the classroom,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” . “When you go back, you take a look and you try to trace where these clusters of cases come from in the school, it’s just that.”

Staying safe in the field

There may be a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission in informal settings like after-school activities and sports compared to formal settings because people are more likely to let their guard down, said Dr. Leana Wen, a medical analyst at CNN.

She recommends that children play outside whenever possible and not share water bottles. Children should also be on high alert in locker and locker room areas.

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Parents should inquire about their sports league protocols if a player tests positive, Wen said. Some of the questions he advises parents are: “Will they be contacted promptly if there is a positive case? How is contact tracing done?”

Wen said it’s important to stay vigilant as Covid-19 variants evolve.

“With a more contagious variant, that means that activities that we thought were safer will now have a higher risk,” Wen said.

CNN’s Jen Christensen and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.


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