New health order restricts non-professional fall sports and activities in Wyandotte County

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A new local health order that goes into effect Friday in Wyandotte County is prohibiting certain non-professional fall sports events and activities that pose a significant COVID-19 risk in the county.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County announced the order Thursday and said it would go into effect on Friday, August 14, at 12:01 a.m.

Since March of this year, the UG said the local health department’s medical officers have relied on COVID-19 data to guide the county’s ongoing pandemic response. After a peak in new cases in July, the 7-day rolling averages of new positive cases have begun to decline. This may be due in part to measures like requiring masks/face coverings.

The UG said COVID-19 is still very much a threat to the community. Case numbers are still high compared to earlier this Spring, the positivity rate in cases has not gone down,and Wyandotte County still has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the metro area.

Specifically, this new order prohibits football, volleyball, soccer and marching band events. The guidance in the order applies to all public and private schools (K-12), plus higher education and non-professional sports clubs and organizations operating in Wyandotte County.

“We have worked closely with the educational institutions in Wyandotte County, from K-12 to higher education, to safely open schools this fall. It became increasing clear that allowing contact sports would greatly increase the risk of exposure to student athletes, their classmates, and their families. We recognize the impact of cancelling sports and it is regrettable that the virus has not been contained enough to allow non-professional sports to proceed at this time,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, Deputy Medical Officer with the Unified Government Public Health Department.

The order is designed to accomplish three objectives: Prevent a spike in positive COVID-19 cases due to exposure through certain sports and other activities in which it is difficult to maintain social distancing and/or wear masks the whole time, provide consistent guidance for all non-professional sports at all levels and reduce the possibility of more restrictive future measures.

Additional details from the new Local Health Order include: Competitions for football, volleyball, soccer and marching band are prohibited. Practice and conditioning activities in such sports may proceed in the event 6 feet social distancing can always be continuously maintained between individuals. Practice and conditioning in the winter sports of boys & girls basketball and wrestling are also limited to activities where 6 feet social distancing can always be continuously maintained between individuals.

Sports or activities during the 2020 fall sports season such as debate, speech, tennis, gymnastics, golf, cross county, or other non-contact spirit activity are allowed provided they adhere to the guidelines in the KSHSAA Activity Specific Risk Management Considerations manual.

Frequent sanitizing and cleaning of surfaces and shared equipment is required.

Masks must always be worn by athletes and coaches indoors; and outdoors during practice or competition when 6 feet distance cannot be continuously maintained.

All schools and non-professional sports organizations visiting Wyandotte County for competition must strictly adhere to all Wyandotte County local health officer orders.

It is the responsibility of the host school or non-professional sports organization to inform the visiting team of this and all related local health orders.

Non-participating individuals attending indoor practices or competitions must adhere to social distance practices and mask wearing mandates for indoor functions. Non-participating individuals attending outdoor practices and competition, must wear masks in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.

“Even though our rolling, seven-day average case numbers seem to be coming down, we need to do everything we can to continue that progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Corriveau said. “We saw a spike in the number of cases after the stay at home order was lifted in May, and we have continued to see more spread of the virus throughout the summer. This new guidance will help protect our students, coaches, teachers, and families, and, we hope, help prevent another spike in case numbers.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Wyandotte County has reported 5,089 positive COVID-19 cases since the middle of March. There have been 102 deaths and 1,461 people have recovered, according to the Wyandotte County Health Department.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The majority of people recover.

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