Youth sports and after-school activities appear to be causing COVID-19 clusters after several coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to school tournaments or extracurricular activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re working to facilitate increased testing that is happening on the ground in the context of youth sports,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Health officials say as kids continue to play indoor sports like basketball, hockey and wrestling, it’s causing an increase in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the U.S.
“We are seeing a higher proportion of younger people getting ill and unfortunately getting hospitalized,” CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said.
In Florida, the CDC reports the virus was linked to high school wrestling tournaments in December where 38 people were infected.
And in Minnesota, officials there say the B117 variant, first found in the U.K., spread through one county where at least 68 cases were linked to youth sporting events.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “School sports, particularly team sports which people typically engage in close contact without masks. I think that is what’s explaining these surges of cases in young individuals.”
The CDC recommends minimizing the time spent indoors and reduce the amount of time players spend in close contact with each other.
Health experts also recommend having children play outdoors whenever possible and not share water bottles.
The B117 COVID variant was originally found in the U.K. and is about 50% more infectious than any other strain of the virus, according to researchers.