The state of Michigan announced Friday that it is mandating COVID-19 tests among all athletes ages 13 through 19.
As reported by Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK, the state said it was increasing testing capacity for students ages 13-19 in an effort to better identify COVID-19 cases in high school athletic settings. Governor Gretchen Whitmer also said student-athletes would be required to get tested before every competition and practice.
A seven-step process for schools will include mandating districts to identify points of contact, developing a plan for antigen testing (with the tests provided by the state), and performing the testing itself. Students will need a negative antigen test before they are cleared to play.
"Last week's numbers are a reality check — COVID-19 is not behind us," Whitmer said during a Friday news conference. Michigan is one of 10 states that is seeing increases in infections after mitigating the spread of the virus in January and February.
On Wednesday, the state's chief health officer and epidemiologist cited outbreaks in high school settings and activities associated with them as being one of the main sources driving Michigan's third surge of cases.
The health department is currently tracking 645 identified outbreaks of COVID-19, including 170 in just the last week, among K-12 schools. High schools made up the vast majority of those instances.
The completes seven-step program is as follows:
Students who are part of school-sanctioned, contact sports teams will be eligible for a test. Schools that hope to offer sports will need to participate in the program by:
1. Engaging the community by offering MDHHS webinars and keeping parents and students connected with the district
2. Identifying points of contact for each district and school building
3. Participating in training sessions provided by MDHHS and identifying a team that can conduct testing of athletes
4. Outlining a testing plan that includes necessary PPE, a place for waste disposal, and a system for reporting test results
5. Allowing students who test negative to participate, but denying participation to students who test positive, have contact with someone who tests positive or has symptoms
6. Handing out and finalizing consent forms from student-athletes
7. Filling out a survey