HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The newest mandates from the governor’s office are impacting sports all across the commonwealth at every level and that includes recreation, club and travel athletics.
Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond-Henrico health district, says that a few clusters of positive COVID-19 cases have been surfacing in the club sports scene, not necessarily from on-field competition, rather that congregation that surrounds it.
“It all comes down to close contact,” Dr. Avula said. “When we spend more than 15 minutes within close contact of other people, that’s when the risk of transmission occurs.”
Jay Howell is the executive director for Richmond Strikers soccer. They’ve been hosting tournaments throughout the month and have not been made aware of any positive cases stemming from any of those events. More than 600 teams have filed through Striker Park throughout those weekends.
“It goes back to having a plan,” Avula notes. “It’s making sure that the team has talked through this together, that there are clear expectations for where we’re going to stand, when we’re going to be near each other, the fact that we’re going to wear masks.”
The governor’s new order says that each field can have no more than 25 spectators for each game. That number does not include teams and game personnel. The Strikers have distributed 12 wristbands to each team for the upcoming tournament that grants access to fields and without a wristband, admittance will not be granted.
“We will have people checking and walking around and making sure the crowds stay below 25,” noted Howell. “We’re going to make sure that they’re socially distant on the sideline, and we’ve asked them, let’s be considerate.”
Howell also points out that families within the organization have been taking precautions as well.
“I think people, if it’s possible, they will drive in and drive out in a day. They would choose not to stay somewhere just so they can stay within their own bubble as a family. I think you’ve also seen a reduction in the amount of people who are traveling as groups.”
“We want to make sure that people aren’t congregating together before and after games,” added Avula. “That’s hard because that’s so much of the fun of team sports.”
Avula points out that, while most of the issues may not come from on the field, there are some activities where there is a higher risk of transmission during competition, such as football and wrestling.
“As we see the rates getting higher, we are leaning into saying, hey, there are some sports that are just going to be riskier, sports where there are inherent close contact, and we really should be avoiding those right now.”
Avula says that the Department of Health wants to help organizers of teams and tournaments plan for events and travel to avoid any positive coronavirus cases or outbreak. You can call that hotline for assistance at (804) 205-3501.
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