Downward infection trend may return high school sports

Still unclear when they'll suit up

OW Staff Writer | 3/5/2021, midnight

The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County has reportedly fallen enough to allow for a resumption of youth competition in sports such as football, soccer and water polo. Many schools remain closed due to the pandemic and it is unclear when student-athletes will return to action.

The state has issued revised guidelines allowing a resumption of youth sports as of Friday in counties where the average daily rate of new COVID-19 infections drops below 14 per 100,000 residents. Updated numbers released by the state at mid-week put Los Angeles County's adjusted rate at 12.3 per 100,000 residents.

Orange County also met the threshold, with its case rate falling to 11.9 per 100,000 residents.

Counties that reach the 14-case threshold can resume basketball, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, rowing/crew, soccer and water polo.

Resuming football, rugby and water polo will also require weekly COVID testing of players—aged 13 and above—and coaches, with test results made available within 24 hours of a competition. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would absorb the cost of the required testing.

The guidance applies to all forms of organized youth sports, including school and community programs, and private clubs and leagues.

Many schools, however, still have not reopened their campuses, most notably in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Superintendent Austin Beutner said student-athletes will be able to return to campuses next week for conditioning drills, but not competition.

The state's guidance encourages, but does not mandate, vaccinations for athletes, coaches and staff.

It also maintains previous guidance limiting spectators to immediate household members, with limits on overall numbers to ensure physical distancing.