The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ latest COVID-19 order will allow contact sports to resume Monday, as long as participants are wearing masks or regularly tested for the coronavirus.
“We are pleased at our continued progress in Michigan that has allowed us to take this step forward in a phased approach,” MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said of the order, which will remain in effect through March 29. “As a parent and former student-athlete myself, I get how important athletics are to our children’s physical and mental health. However, parents and athletes need to understand the risk involved with contact sports if they choose to participate. Sports that require frequent closeness between players make it more difficult to prevent disease transmission even when mitigation measures are in place, including masks. Even when not required, we urge teams to implement a testing program to protect athletes, coaches and their families.”
Face masks must be worn at all times, while participants must be at least six feet apart when not actively competing. Up to 250 people can attend events in facilities with a capacity of less then 10,000, and up to 500 people for a capacity greater than 10,000.
When the coronavirus surged in November, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an emergency order that included pausing high school athletics. According to MLive, prior to the latest order, contact sports like basketball, wrestling, competitive cheer and hockey were scheduled to resume competition Feb. 21.
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This week’s press release noted that Michigan has seen improvements in MDHHS’s key metrics for a safe restart, including a 10-week decline in hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients; a drop from 740 cases per million on Nov. 14 to 159 cases per million; and the positivity rate of 4.9 percent is as low as it’s been since October.
“We continue to make progress in reducing cases and hospitalizations, helping protect our families and frontline workers and saving lives,” Whitmer said. “Michigan continues to be a national leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue using a fact-based approach so we can return to a strong economy and normal day-to-day activities. One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus so we can end this pandemic together.”
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