High school sports in Michigan will continue despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a two-week pause as COVID-19 cases surge in the state.
“We’re going to play two days of basketball and really make no changes for the spring,” Michigan High School Athletic Association Executive Director Mark Uyl told the Detroit Free Press. “We followed the orders — every order — going back to July. Whenever the orders have allowed us to play, we’ve played.”
While all high school athletes are required to be tested for the coronavirus each week, athletes in the conference have so far shown a positivity rate of less than 3%.
Uyl also highlighted the fact that spring sports, such as track, golf, tennis, lacrosse, girls soccer, baseball, and softball, are played outside and require less physical contact than sports played in autumn.
Local schools have the option to delay practices and competition and can reschedule competitions until the MHSAA Final.
The governor requested a voluntary suspension of youth sports and asked residents to avoid indoor dining for two weeks. Whitmer also urged secondary schools to move to remote learning.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, blamed youth sports for an uptick in coronavirus cases, and Director Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said youth sports and afterschool activities should be “limited.”
“We’re finding out that it’s the team sports where kids are getting together, obviously many without masks, that are driving it, rather than in-the-classroom spread,” Fauci told Good Morning America on Tuesday. “When you go back and take a look and try and track where these clusters of cases are coming from in the school, it’s just that.”
Michigan recorded 53,265 new cases of the coronavirus in the last seven days, surpassing the record high seen last November, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“Because we are seeing so many cases a day, our public health system is overwhelmed. We are not able to get information on many cases, nor are we able to identify their close contacts.” Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said at a briefing. “We don’t know where all the cases or outbreaks are, and what we do know is likely an undercount.”
The Biden administration will intervene in the state, but it will not accede to Whitmer’s request for extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, the federal government will help the state distribute vaccinations and send an additional 60 personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the CDC to Michigan.