Youth sports responsible for lots of Shelby County COVID-19 cases

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM CDT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - There will be no Friday Night Lights at Collierville High School Friday evening after a scheduled game against Arlington High was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Arlington Football team.

Two players on the Varsity football team tested positive for the virus, according to Arlington Community schools.

Because of the close contact nature of football, the entire football team is being quarantined and Arlington High will end their regular season early as a precaution.

Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld says there are many variables that can lead to outbreaks on sporting teams.

“The more of the get-togethers, making dinner, riding on a bus together before and after the actual competition may be a big part of what we’re seeing and why we see so much in sporting events,” Threlkeld said.

Leaders with the Shelby County Health Department told WMC Action News 5 Friday that after interviewing 500 COVID-19 positive people who are linked to schools as either a student or employee, the most reported activity was participation in athletics.

83 percent of cases reported being either a player or a coach in one or more athletic programs, including football, basketball, cheerleading, soccer, and volleyball.

Shelby County Schools postponed fall sports in September.

Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray took to social media Thursday reacting to the statistic.

He wrote in part “We must consider the exposure for families and the unknown long-term health impact of this virus.”

Dr. Threlkeld encourages everyone not to let their guard down and to continue wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing.

“It may be that kids that participate in sports are more sociable than others anyway and they’re getting together more than others after school just from a social standpoint,” he said.

A spokesperson with Arlington Community Schools says the Arlington High Football team will play in the playoffs should no other outbreaks occur.

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