St. Louis County Clamping Down on Youth Sports After Coronavirus Spike

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St. Louis County Sam Page, shown in a file photo, has put a 250-person limit on gatherings in the county. - LEXIE MILLER
St. Louis County Sam Page, shown in a file photo, has put a 250-person limit on gatherings in the county.

St. Louis County is calling an end to youth sports competitions for now, hoping to short circuit a spike in coronavirus cases tied to games.

County Executive Sam Page announced the new rules this afternoon. Starting Monday, young athletes will still be able to practice with their teams but only in groups of ten or fewer. Spectators won't be allowed, and games against other teams are forbidden.

Page says the county is recording twenty new cases per day among kids ages ten to nineteen.

"There's not going to be less tomorrow or next week," he said at a news conference. "This is going in the wrong direction. We have to do something about it while we can impact that trend."

The county has more than 300 contact tracers, and Page says they've noticed a "disturbing" trend in recent weeks of new cases tied to youth sports events, affecting athletes, their families and spectators. He gave examples of high school teams now under quarantine. In one case, a player on a team tested positive, forcing all fifteen members to quarantine. In another, an alumnus who practiced with a team was later found to have contracted the virus. All those players have had to go into quarantine, Page says.

The order comes as the county works with school districts on plans for returning to in-person classes in the fall. Page says that the county will ensure that schools that bring students back will have enough masks for kids and staff along with other support.

The county, like the city, has issued a mask mandate for people in public, but an order from late June regarding youth sports in the county allowed athletes to compete mask-less against opposing teams, while spectators were told to wear face coverings.

"This is a trend, ten to nineteen, that is dangerous in our country, dangerous in our community," Page says. "If we don't get our hands around it, it will impact the option of in-class school in our community."

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