UW-Madison study shows high school sports not linked to COVID-19 spread
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With the return of high school sports came fears student-athletes would be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
A new study released by the UW-Madison Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation shows those fears may have been unfounded. Across Wisconsin, high school sports offer a sense of pride for communities big and small. According to that study, they may also lower the risk of student-athletes contracting COVID-19. HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital RN Hannah Schroeder says the reason for that comes down to what is at stake for the athletes.
“What I also think is to their benefit is that the students and coaches, they are really invested and they want this things to happen,” she says. “They are willing to follow guidelines so they can maintain and not lose those privileges again”
The study looked at more than 30,000 student-athletes over 16,000 practices and over 4,000 competitive games in September. Just 271 total cases were reported during the study, a number that was much lower than those reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for 14-17 year -old over the same period. Chippewa Falls athletic director Mike Thompson says although it has been difficult, Chippewa Falls High School student-athletes are making sacrifices in order to play.
“It’s created challenges obviously but our kids have repeatedly said they will do what it takes to be able to compete,” Thompson says.
Just one case was linked to transmission during sports and none required hospitalization. Augusta athletic director Archie Sherbinow says he is impressed with how seriously his coaches and players are handling new protocols.
“We screen our athletes before practice, anytime they are around each other, they have face masks on,” Sherbinow says. “I’m really happy with the way our coaches have approached that.”
As Wisconsin deals with a rise in COVID-19 cases, local schools know they are not out of the woods just yet.
“I think we have to be leery and know that it is probably going to get a little more challenging as the year goes on with indoor sports,” Sherbinow says.
“Any day could literally be the last day you’re able to come to school and compete,” Thompson says. “It’s not something we want and not something I would be prepared for. It’s something that could come down and it’s always in the back of your mind.”
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