CDC director says youth sports, extracurricular activities 'should be limited'

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday said youth sports and other extracurricular activities "should be limited" amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying outbreaks in young people have stemmed from those activities.

"We are learning that many outbreaks in young people are related to youth sports and extracurricular activities," Walensky said.

"According to CDC guidance, these activities should be limited," Walensky continued, adding that "if they are not, the risk of clusters can be prevented with cadence testing strategies, as are being rolled out in so many different places."

Walensky said that as schools are reopening for students and as young people continue to participate in their extracurricular activities, it is "even more important" that the public stricly adhere to CDC guidance.

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In December, the CDC issued guidance for youth sports, saying that each community may need to make adjustments to meet its own unique circumstances.

The CDC said ways to assess the risk for these activities included community levels of COVID-19, the physical closeness of players -- saying, for example, sports that require contact or close proximity "may make it more difficult to maintain physical distancing, compared to sports where players are not close to each other" -- the level of intensity of the activity, and the length of time that players are close to each other or staff.

High School Boys Basketball In Pennsylvania

A spray bottle with disinfectant on the bleachers next to a basketball. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

The CDC also said that the setting of the sporting event or activity was important, noting that indoor activites pose more risk than outdoor activities, and pointed to the size of the team, sharing of equipment and limiting travel outside of the local community.

The CDC urged local youth sports and activity organizations to clean and disinfect surfaces on the fields, courts, or equipment and other shared objects, enforce mask wearing, limit team sizes and practice physical distancing.

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