Expert: Fall sports could set us up for third surge of COVID-19 cases

Researcher wants school districts to take a time out
Posted at 6:58 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 19:13:16-04

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — A temporary setback in a pair of Northeast Ohio school districts as a handful of students participating in extra-curricular activities contract the coronavirus.

Mayfield Heights just pulled the plug on its football program until further notice after a pair of players there tested positive for COVID-19.

In Kirtland, nearly a dozen high school marching band members are currently in quarantine, the volleyball program also suspended after a player, who's also a musician, tested positive.

“It's difficult for me to be optimistic,” said Mark Cameron.

That's what Cameron said youth athletic programs currently have the potential to do.

“The virus is looking for loopholes," said Cameron.

Cameron, an infectious disease researcher at Case Western Reserve University, said practices and games can quickly build clusters in our community.

“Clusters of infections can link together and become another outbreak," said Cameron.

It is very similar he says to what we saw earlier this summer when businesses re-opened and people returned to the office.

“We’re in that same position. We could risk a third surge," said Cameron.

However, it's not all bad news.

Cameron points out two bright spots, as now a growing number of school districts suspend or delay activities.

First: these cases were identified, showing steps to prevent spread are working.

“Surveillance and testing," said Cameron.

Second: school leaders are taking immediate action.

“That really does help break those chains of infection," said Cameron.

In Kirtland, the band director kept a detailed log of how groups of musicians interacted with each other.

So, after one tested positive for coronavirus, that information prevented the entire band from facing quarantine.

Eleven members are isolated now until September 5.

“It’s another great sign to see that type of proactive measure," said Cameron.

Cameron expects other schools will see similar virus activity, especially right now with hundreds of new coronavirus cases reported in Ohio each day.

He wants to see districts hold off on plans to resume sporting activities.

“Maybe even rolling back some of these openings or decreasing the activities," said Cameron.

Some parents in Mayfield Heights, like Paul Abouhassen, feel there's a rush to return to fall sports.

“We gotta do what’s right and safe for our kids. It’s not safe enough yet for our kids to come back," said Abouhassen.

Cameron said this uptick in cases on school campuses is worrisome as we get ready to enter cold and flu season.

“So, we really got to get this right, now,” said Cameron.