How does contact tracing work among high school athletic teams?

How does contact tracing work among high school athletic teams?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Collierville High School suspended football games for two weeks after two players tested positive for COVID-19 in last Friday’s game against Briarcrest Christian School.

Briarcrest was set to take on Houston High School in a game Thursday night. A spokesperson for Briarcrest said they had been in contact with the health department and were advised that none of their players needed to quarantine after exposure to the Collierville team last week.

“We try to think what does this person do on the field, who have they interacted with and then we go from there,” said David Sweat, Deputy Director of the Shelby County Health Department.

The Shelby County Health Department said Thursday there are multiple spheres of exposure they look at when contact tracing among high school athletic teams.

“The first sphere of exposure is teammates, coaches and trainers on the same team, with an individual who has tested positive,” Sweat explained.

Officials said those on the same team as the athletes affected have the most risk and likelihood of being a close contact, which then expands outward to the opposing team based on the player’s position.

“If you’re a lineman directly across from another lineman, breathing in each others faces, you’re obviously going to have more exposure than somebody who is subbing in for a play and may be on the bench on the other side,” Sweat said.

Wednesday Collierville Schools reported two positive cases of COVID-19 among players on its football team after its first game last Friday. The district cancelled games for two weeks. A spokesperson for the district declined Thursday to say how many if any students were put into quarantine citing federal privacy laws.

Briarcrest officials said they were told only one of the positive Collierville players played in the game, and there was no need for contact tracing among their personnel.

The county’s health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said Thursday the health department still maintains high school contact sports are too risky to be played. But Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has permitted them under executive order.

“Our position has always been and still is that contact sports such as football is not recommended at this time,” said Randolph.

Meantime in Tipton County, Director of Schools Dr. John Combs said he is restricting capacity for football games at Covington High School after a lack of social distancing or mask wearing there last week in Covington’s home game against Munford.

“Due to this disregard for the procedures we put into place, the next home game will see only half the number of tickets sold. In cooperation with CHS Administration and the Gridiron, it is our hope that fans will make a concerted effort to follow the protocols for socially distancing. If this continues to be an issue, game capacity will be further reduced or even closed to the public,” Combs said in a written statement provided to WMC Action News 5.

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