Football could return next week

The California Department of Public Health released new, looser guidelines for outdoor and indoor youth and recreational sports on Friday that appear to bring a return to athletic activities. The State is allowing all outdoor sports to resume in counties where COVID-19 case rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000. According to the case counter on readyslo.org, SLO County is currently at 15.6 per 100,000 but could be below the desired target when new numbers are released next week.

The Atascadero News has reached out to San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health to get an official number on the county’s rate and is awaiting a response. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is expected to release a statement today. 

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the guidelines at a press conference this morning joined by two San Francisco 49ers and thanked the leaders of the let them play movement, who undoubtedly played a role in Friday’s announcement. 

The new guidelines pave the way for outdoor sports like baseball and softball to begin on-time for and for football and water polo to even squeeze in a quick season starting as soon as Friday for counties under the 14 people per 100,000 thresholds. 

Athletes in all sports will still need to wear masks while not competing, not share personal equipment, and are encouraged to socially distance themselves when available. Spectators, coaches and trainers will all be required to wear masks per the CDPH guidelines. 

High-contact sports like football and water polo also become available but require athletes and coaches to get COVID-19 tested weekly if the county case rate is above seven per 100,000. The tests would be either antigen or PCR and provided by the State. If competing, testing is performed with test results made available within 24 hours of play.

Moderate contact sports will not be subject to testing, while many low contact sports have already begun across the county. 

While this news does signal a return for outdoor sports, indoor sports such as basketball and volleyball are still shut down. 

“We will continue to work on those indoor issues, we have a whole team working on that, and we will have more to say very, very shortly,” Newsom said Friday morning.

The return for football, especially, came in just the nick of time as CIF has determined that the season must end by April 17 in order for the following season to be able to start on-time. 

Once under the 14 per 100,000 thresholds, youth activities for high contact sports will also be able to return. Per the new guidelines, testing will not be required for participants 13 years of age or younger as “evidence shows that younger children do not seem to be major sources of transmission—either to each other or to adults.”

If more than 50 percent of a team’s participants are less than the age of 13, then the entire team is exempted from the testing requirement. Coaches, however, will still be required to meet the testing requirement.

Getting through this together, Atascadero