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Youth sports spread Covid-19, health officials warn

After school activities, clusters create where coronavirus can spread among children, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

The virus was linked to wrestling tournaments in high school 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 spread through Carver County with at least 68 cases related 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 United Kingdom, is about 50% more transmissible than other threads of the virus in the United States, 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 these types of activities. The organization listed nearly a dozen different recommendations, including minimizing the time spent indoors and reducing the time players spend in close contact with each other.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned about the spread of Covid-19 among children participating in youth sports.

“We find that it’s the team sport where kids meet, obviously many without masks, that run it, rather than in the classroom,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Tuesday in “Good Morning America.” “When you go back and look and try to track where these clusters of cases come from in school, that’s exactly it.”

To be sure of the field

There may be a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission in informal settings such as leisure activities and sports compared to formal settings because people may be more likely to fail their guard, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

She advises children to play outdoors whenever possible and not share water bottles. Children must also be on high alert in cupboard areas and changing rooms.

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Parents should educate themselves about their sports league protocols if a player tests positive, Wen said. Some questions she advises parents on are: “Will they be contacted immediately if there is a positive case? How is contact tracking performed?”

Wen said it is important to be mindful as Covid-19 variants evolve.

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

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

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