Local doctors urge young athletes who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 to be cautious this fall

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OLATHE, Kan. — With practices starting on Monday for some schools, athletes in Kansas are eagerly awaiting the start of the fall sports season.

But doctors at the University of Kansas Health System are urging kids who’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19 to remain cautious even after recovering from the virus. 

“There are risks that are unknown at this point. Life is precious, and health is precious,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bruce Toby said.

Some parents say they’re willing to take the risk.

Brian Connell has two kids who play sports in the Olathe School District. He said neither have tested positive for COVID-19. But his son, Brennan, has dealt with heart problems in the past.

In 2019, while playing in a baseball game for Olathe West, he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

“He has thrived because when he went back to school, it was the athletic trainers who worked with him before and after school, who got him stronger, bigger, faster,” Brian Connell said. 

Doctors warn of potential COVID-related cardiovascular problems like myocarditis. It’s the inflammation of the heart caused by a viral infection. 

Recovering COVID-19 patients and asymptomatic people can have it and not even realize it.

“With sports, we’re used to this return-to-play algorithm where we monitor for symptoms and all this stuff. We’re a little more in tune to that. But the problem is asymptomatic inflammation is something to deal with,” KU Hospital sports cardiologist Dr. Tim Beaver said. 

Whether an athlete decides to sit the season out or play, doctors are asking everyone to take necessary precautions to stay safe.

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