ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — More than 800 people quarantined in Anne Arundel County during the fall sports season, all linked to youth athletics.
Despite that, some coaches are advocating for practices and games to resume.
Anne Arundel County continues to tally one of the highest numbers of cases in Maryland. Now, health officials are taking a look at the risks. Meanwhile, fields sit empty, stands are bare and scoreboards are dark.
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“I feel like to this day we should still be playing right now,” youth football coach Derek Edwards said. “I feel there’s a way to make it safe for the kids but they don’t want to (do it). The easy route is to shut it down.”
Edwards said his season was cut short. Before it was shut down, the team was able to get in six games and a last-minute championship.
In a group of 35, not a single positive case was reported all season on his team.
“My team was practicing since July. I have 30 players and about five coaches we never had any outbreak,” he said.
But recent case data shows 804 quarantines were directly related to people who played or coached youth sports. Thirty-nine players in Anne Arundel County tested positive for COVID-19 just during the fall youth sports season.
“Over the past month, we have had 11 youth teams with a positive player,” the county’s health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman previously said. “Each of those cases had an average of 16 contacts, which is a lot more than we have when its 3-4 contacts per case.”
Edwards said his team performed temperature checks before each practice and game and made players sanitize their hands during each break.
“If somebody ever says it can’t be done, it can be done because we proved it,” he said.
Still, the county pointed out in addition to the positive cases, contact tracing within youth sports has been a challenge. Kalyanaraman urged parents to be honest if a contact tracer calls.
As for winter sports, they had been set to begin next Monday but will not do so until the county gives them the green light.