Student athletes push to change way COVID-19 spread is measured in Johnson County

Tracking Coronavirus

OLATHE, Kan. — There’s a push to change the way the spread of the coronavirus is measured in Johnson County so that fall sports can start.

Some parents and students believe revising how we look at the infection rate would show a low risk for fall school sports.

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment says there were 629 new cases of COVID-19 last week. Based on the county’s population, those new cases reflect an infection rate of 102 for every 100,000 residents, which is the measurement the White House coronavirus task force uses.

Anything above 100 is considered to be in the “Red Zone,” a rate too high for the health department to recommend starting fall sports and other school activities.

However, a group of parents and students told county commissioners Thursday that they believe the so-called “gating” criteria for resuming school sports is skewed and subjective. They see a low risk of resuming sports with safety precautions in place.

“There are over 602,000 people that live in Johnson County,” Ethan Hunt, a soccer player at Blue Valley Northwest, said. “Five positive cases on one day, divided by 602,000 people is 0.00000831 percent, which is not even 1 in 100,000 students.”

Students have a lot invested in their high school athletic careers, which they do not want to give up. There are even reports of elite athletes saying they will move out of Johnson County to play fall sports somewhere else.

Parents told FOX 4 continuing to play is what’s best for their kids and they’re willing to accept the risks.

Dr. Samni Aerola, the county’s health director, said the numbers are high, no matter how you look at them. He said changing the way the virus spread is measured will generate a similar conclusion.

Aerola said he will meet again with school superintendents Tuesday to discuss the latest data. Ultimately, it will be local school boards who determine how risky it is for fall sports to take place.

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