Los Angeles County announced another change to its evolving COVID guidelines for participants and coaches in youth sports, including school-based athletic programs. Under the previously released rules, which were set to take effect Wednesday, the county was mandating weekly COVID testing for all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
The revised rules, however, remove the weekly testing requirement for fully vaccinated youth taking part in outdoor sports, unless there is a positive case among players, coaches and/or staff. If there is a positive case, all players, coaches, staff and volunteers will be required to have a weekly negative test for two weeks following exposure.
Weekly testing will still be mandated for all youth, staff, coaches and volunteers who are not fully vaccinated and are involved in “moderate” or “high” risk indoor sports. For “moderate” or “high” risk outdoor sports, testing will be required for all youth aged 12 and older, staff, coaches and volunteers who are not vaccinated. No weekly testing will be required for children under 12 involved in outdoor sports.
Health officials said the rules could be modified further based on availability of testing, and will be reassessed when overall community transmission of the virus diminishes.
“We are grateful to the schools, districts, youth sport programs and parents who have worked so hard in ensuring the safety of students, teachers, athletes, and the many staff,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Monday. “It is very important for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to isolate from others and that masks are worn properly in all indoor settings, which includes spectators, coaches and employees of youth sports regardless of vaccination status. The best protection for all student athletes 12 years and over, and for all coaches and team staff is to get vaccinated.”
Over the weekend, Ferrer stressed the need to protect children under age 12, who are ineligible to be vaccinated.
“During this period of high transmission, protecting those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, is of utmost importance and we can all take as many precautions as feasible to limit risk of transmission,” she said.
The number of COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized in Los Angeles County rose back above 1,700 Monday, while county officials reported six more virus-related deaths and 2,339 new infections. Hospitalizations had fallen to 1,687 on Sunday, but according to state figures, the number rose back to 1,709 as of Monday, with 452 of those people in intensive care.
The six new deaths increased the overall death toll from the pandemic to 25,251 in the county, while the cumulative number of infections rose to 1,405,387. According to the Department of Public Health, the case and death numbers were likely artificially low, because Monday numbers traditionally reflect delays in reporting from the weekend.
The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 2.4% as of Monday, up slightly from 2.3% on Saturday.