Officials: Virus outbreak should pause Carver County sports

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota Health officials said Friday they are recommending a two-week pause on youth sports in Carver County after experiencing a recent outbreak of a variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Since late January, Carver County has recorded at least 68 cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, health officials said. Those cases have been linked to sports, including hockey, wrestling, basketball, alpine skiing and others.

The number of cases linked to Carver County gyms and fitness centers has increased. Also, health department data shows that from Feb. 24 through Thursday, there was a 62% increase in cases in the county.

“We are making progress in the effort to end this pandemic, but we need all Minnesotans to keep up their guard until the work is done,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “The variants circulating now present added risk that we may see another surge in cases and we need everyone to do their part to prevent that from happening.”

Malcolm urged people to wear masks, social distance as well as stay home when sick and get tested when necessary.

Health officials recommend a two-week, county-wide pause in youth school and club sports starting Monday. Due to the risk that the outbreak has spread to other counties, health officials are also recommending that other youth sports participate in active screening, weekly testing of athletes and coaches, and hold no gatherings before or after games. They also recommend strict enforcement of proper masking.

Officials are also suggesting that schools in the county maintain a hybrid learning model, with full physical distancing for secondary students. They’re also urging schools to consider pausing other extracurricular activities where sufficient distancing can’t be maintained.

Strict prevention measures are recommended for all settings, and health officials are urging Minnesotans to delay nonessential travel and nonessential gatherings.

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