RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported a sharp increase in COVID-19 clusters among school sports teams since the start of the school year.
Between July 1 and September 2, there have been at least 42 athletics-related clusters reported in North Carolina middle and high schools with only four of those occurring in July.
The clusters among sports teams in public, charter and private schools accounted for 45% of all clusters in North Carolina middle and high schools.
The NCDHHS reported children age 17 and under made up 31% of the state’s total new COVID-19 cases and urged everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated.
“We need everyone, including our student athletes and their coaches, to increase layers of prevention to fight this more contagious Delta variant: Don’t wait to vaccinate and urge others to do the same,” said NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer and State Health Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, M.D., MPH. “Tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Student athletes who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after a close contact with someone with COVID-19.”
Sports in which participants have frequent and prolonged contact, such as basketball, football, cheerleading, wrestling and others, are higher risk. The NCDHHS recommends all sports and school athletics programs follow the latest guidance for youth sports.
Several area athletics programs have been suspended because of positive COVID-19 tests on teams, with Pender High School football being the latest casualty.
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