CDC notes an increase in COVID-19 transmission during youth sports practices and games

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The CDC director believes sports and extracurriculars are causing a spike in COVID-19 cases for young people.

The most affected age range is 18 to 24.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld said even though younger people tend to get less severe COVID cases, they can bring that home to others in their family who might not be so lucky.

He also said it’s not the sports themselves causing the spike.

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“The kids are not necessarily getting it on the football field, but they might get it during team meetings, during get-togethers afterward,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Dr. Threlkeld said several factors are causing an increase in transmission during sports practices or games.

He said some of it is community spread in general while the rest is from socializing before or after games, like when teams grab a pizza.

“A lot of people believe you can still participate in sports; you just have to be more careful about how close you gather before or after a game,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

He said when sports were not allowed, there was still high transmission in young people.

“Even when sports were called off to some degree in the fall, we saw more acquisition of the infection in a dorm than a classroom,” he said.

Dr. Threlkeld said the best way to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases is to get vaccinated.

He said even though kids under the age of 16 can’t get the shot, they can still practice the basic safety measures like social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing their hands.

“Really, it still comes down to basic principles of being around someone at close range for 10 minutes,” said Dr. Threlkeld.