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Page Restricts Youth Sports In St. Louis County Because of Increase In COVID-19 In Teens

Hazelwood Central wide reciever Kayden Jackson (16) tries to move past Hazelwood East defender Tavon Henley (10) during their Sat., Sept. 21, 2018 game at Central. The Hawks of Hazelwood Central went on to defeat the Spartans 27-20.
File Photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American
A September 2018 high school football game between Hazelwood East and Hazelwood Central. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has restricted scrimmages and practices because of a rise of COVID-19 cases linked to youth sports.

Student-athletes will have to scale back scrimmages and practices starting Monday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced, saying there’s a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases being reported among county teens.

“Sports are one of the most important ways to learn responsibility, discipline and teamwork,” Page said Thursday afternoon. “But because youth sports bring people together, the activities that surround youth sports are fertile ground for viral transmission.”

Beginning next week, teams will no longer be able to scrimmage against other schools; workouts will be capped at 10 players; and no spectators will be allowed at events.

An average of 20 cases per day of COVID-19 are currently being tallied for children aged 10-19 in the county, Page said.

“This is going in the wrong direction and we have to do something while we can impact that trend,” he said.

The infection rate for teens is still lower than nearly all other age groups but is trending up.

The official start of the fall sports season is August 10 with games starting two weeks later. Players are allowed to hold informal workouts over the summer.

“We want all sports and all seasons to happen, if possible, in 2020-21. Some may be successful and others won't. Let's be flexible, not angry at those who are working tirelessly to figure this out and try to be part of the solution instead of more of the problem,” Dr. Mark Halstead, a sports medicine physician at Washington University, tweeted Wednesday in response to an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the rise in teen cases linked to youth sports. 

Halstead is a member of the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Council.

An athlete at Kirkwood High School tested positive for the virus recently, according to 5 On Your Side, sending teammates into isolation. 

Getting infections among teens back down will be key for schools being able to reopen next month, Page said.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.