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County Health Department Gives OK To Sports

Randolph's Sydney Hvizdzak and other local basketball players will be allowed to start their seasons Feb. 1 if local Health Departments give the OK. P-J file photo

The Chautauqua County Health Department is providing the following information for schools, businesses, coaching staff, athletes, parents of student-athletes, and youth and adult amateur sports leagues in Chautauqua County. After extended internal consultation and discussion among Western New York County Health Officials, it has been determined that higher-risk and moderate risk sports may proceed in Western New York, according to and in compliance with New York State guidelines.

New York State Interim Guidelines for Sports and Recreation were announced by Governor Cuomo late Friday, January 22. These revisions allow local health departments to authorize if non-professional and non-collegiate sports, such as wrestling, ice hockey, basketball, contact lacrosse, and volleyball, to proceed with individual and group training, competitions, and tournaments, effective February 1. Updates were also made to low- and moderate-risk sports and recreation activities.

All responsible parties (schools, businesses, leagues, organizations) must follow the New York State Department of Health’s INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR SPORTS AND RECREATION DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY and applicable Executive Orders for the conduct of their sports and recreation activities. Per current State guidance, indoor facilities must limit their capacity to no more than 50 percent occupancy and a maximum of two spectators per player. In addition, protocols to ensure social distancing, use of face coverings, and enhanced disinfection protocols must implemented. For moderate and higher risk sports, if an athlete, coach or referee receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, all in-person team or group activities (e.g. practices, scrimmages, games, meetings) will likely result in a 10 day suspension to mitigate the spread of infection. Situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Participating in higher-risk sports presents significant risks. The level of risk presented by a return to sports is driven by the sport and setting, local disease activity, and individual circumstances including underlying health conditions that may place the athlete or household contacts at increased risk of severe disease should they contract COVID-19. Individual schools and businesses, student and adult athletes, and parents/guardians must carefully consider a variety of factors before making an individual decision to participate.

To allow continuation of higher risk sport and recreational activities, local health authorities will continue to consider many factors, including but not limited to the following:

· Whether there is a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area

· Local rates of COVID-19 transmission or rate of positivity, and

· Local ability to monitor and enforce compliance.

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