The state Department of Public Health recommended Friday that sports labeled as high-risk for transmitting the novel coronavirus, such as football, not hold full-team practices or play games this fall or winter.
The DPH guidance for “interscholastic, youth and other amateur sport activities” also includes wrestling, boys lacrosse and competitive cheer and dance in that high-risk category, recommending that those activities be limited to small-group conditioning and non-contact drills.
“(Higher-risk sports practices and games) should be suspended and reconsidered for the spring season unless additional safe and effective strategies can be developed and implemented, in consultation with sports medicine advisors, to significantly mitigate the spread of respiratory droplet emissions among participants,” the guidance says. It suggests face coverings and other mitigation protocols for indoor small-group workouts.
The DPH only put those recommendations against practice and game-play on high-risk sports. Indoor moderate-risk sports like basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and hockey got a DPH recommendation to go ahead “if appropriate modifications are feasible” to “significantly mitigate the spread of respiratory droplet emissions among participants,” according to the guidance.
“The guidance is intended to guide local health departments, municipalities and league organizers in assessing the risk of play, and will be re-visited later in the Fall or early Winter as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses,” the DPH press release says.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference had been in dialogue with DPH over its fall high school sports, a back-and-forth that led to the CIAC canceling its 11-on-11 fall football season earlier this month.
That opened the door for private or club teams to organize full-contact football instead, if local health boards approved; youth football has been allowed under reopening guidelines since July 6. This likely puts more pressure on those local health boards.
Photo: Matthew Brown / Hearst Connecticut Media
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“We encourage children and adults to engage in lower-risk physical activities as part of a strategy to stay healthy and cope with this pandemic,” DPH acting commissioner Deidre Gifford said in the release. “Unfortunately, some team sports present a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 during practice or play, and we recommend that those be either modified or postponed.
“We want anyone playing organized sports in Connecticut to be aware of the risks for contracting COVID-19, so everyone can make informed decisions. Our overall goal is for people to have fun and compete, keep physically active and fit, and most importantly stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.”
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