Youth sports spread Covid-19, health officials warn

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Extracurricular activities create clusters where the coronavirus can spread to children, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We know these increases are due, in part, to more highly transmissible variants, which we are watching very closely,” Walensky said Monday during 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, the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has spread to Carver County with at least 68 cases linked to youth sports activities, including hockey, wrestling and basketball , according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

This variant of the new coronavirus, originally found in the UK, is about 50% more transmissible than other strands of the virus in the US, researchers reported in the journal Cell in March.

The CDC recommends that children limit youth participation in sport and follow specific guidelines when engaging in these types of activities. The organization has listed nearly a dozen different recommendations, including minimizing time spent indoors and reducing the time players spend in close contact with each other.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned of the spread of Covid-19 among children who participate in youth sports.

“We’re finding that it’s team sports where kids get together, obviously a lot without a mask, that drives it, rather than into the classroom,” Fauci told George Stephanopoulos Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” “When you go back and try to track where these clusters of cases are coming from in school, that’s just it.

Stay safe in the field

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

She recommends that children play outside as much as possible and not share bottled water. Children must also be on alert in the locker rooms and locker rooms.

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Parents should learn about their sports league’s protocols if a player tests positive, Wen said. Some questions she advises parents to ask themselves are: “Will they be contacted quickly if there is a positive case?” How is contact tracing carried out? “

Wen said it was important to remain vigilant as the Covid-19 variants evolve.

“With a more contagious variant, that means activities that we thought were safer are now going to be at higher risk,” Wen said.

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

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