The Calexico and Holtville high school football teams square off in 2019. The state Department of Public Health updated guidelines governing participation in high-contact sports like football on Friday, Feb. 19. Counties in the Purple or Red tiers with a COVID-19 case county at or below 14 per 100,000 residents can resume play. Imperial County is currently in the Purple tier with a case count of 17 per 100,000 residents, nearly at the threshold. | FILE PHOTO

State Updates Guidance for Youth, Rec Sports; High-Contact; Imperial County Close to Metrics

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SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Public Health on Friday, Feb. 19, released updated guidance for youth and recreational adult sports. The guidance applies to all organized youth and adult sports, including school and community-sponsored programs, and privately organized clubs and leagues, according to a CDPH press release.

CDPH’s guidance is aimed at giving communities guidelines on how to safely remain physically active while reducing transmission in their communities. Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact and moderate-contact sport competitions may resume in the Red (Substantial) tier and the Purple (Widespread) tier, with modifications, including testing requirements for certain outdoor high contact sports.

“Youth sports are important to our children’s physical and mental health, and our public health approach has worked to balance those benefits against COVID-19 risks,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH director and state Public Health Officer. “With case rates and hospitalizations declining across California, we are allowing outdoor competition to resume, with modifications and steps to reduce risk, in counties where case rates are lower.”

Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact sports can be played in counties in the Purple or Red tier with a case rate at or below 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing will be required for football, rugby and water polo participants age 13 and over in counties with a case rate between 7 and 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing, either antigen or PCR, is required for all participants and coaches in these sports, with results made available within 24 hours of competition. Football, rugby, and water polo are high-contact sports that are likely to be played unmasked, with close, face-to-face contact exceeding 15 minutes.

Outdoor moderate-contact sports, such as baseball, cheerleading and softball, can be played in these counties without the testing requirement.

Due to the nature and risk of transmission while participating in these sports, teams must provide information regarding risk to all parents/guardians of minors participating, and each parent shall sign an informed consent indicating their understanding and acknowledgement of the risks.

Any teams playing in a less restrictive sports tier are strongly encouraged to follow the steps outlined in the guidance to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. This includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and appropriate hand hygiene and equipment sanitation.

Youth and adult sports include varied activities that have different levels of risk for transmission of COVID-19 depending on the physical contact between players. Outdoor activities that allow for consistent wearing of face coverings and physical distancing are lower risk than indoor activities that involve close contact between participants and high exertion that increases spread of exhaled particles.

For more information on examples of sports with different levels of contact and risk by tier view the updated guidance.

Local health officers may implement more stringent rules tailored to local conditions and should be consulted to confirm if there are any local stricter variations.

For more information and resources on what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit www.covid19.ca.gov.

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