The U.S. is seeing increasing reports of Covid-19 cases linked to youth sports, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
The connection between youth sports and increased coronavirus cases comes as the highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. has become the most common Covid strain in the U.S.
In Michigan and Minnesota, there are a growing number of Covid cases linked to the B.1.1.7 variant, Walensky said, “and in both of these states, there is concern about transmission in youth sports, both club sports as well as sports affiliated in schools.”
“What is happening in Michigan and Minnesota is similar to what we are seeing across the country: increasing reports of cases associated with youth sports,” Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 news briefing Friday.
Between January and March, Michigan saw 291 outbreaks stemming from youth sports teams alone that involved at least 1,091 people, state health officials said at a separate news conference Friday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged schools and clubs to pause in-person practices and games for two weeks to try to control the outbreak. She also called on schools to halt in-person learning during this time.
In Minnesota, the B.1.1.7 strain rapidly spread throughout Carver County with at least 68 coronavirus cases linked to participants in both school and club sports activities, including hockey, wrestling, basketball, alpine skiing and other sports, the state health department reported in March.
A Covid outbreak at a wrestling tournament in Florida in December resulted in at least 38 coronavirus cases, according to a CDC study.
Walensky emphasized that Covid-19 cases associated with youth sports do not necessarily relate to an increased risk of transmission in classrooms.
“As cases increase in the community, we expect the cases identified in schools will also increase. This is not necessarily indicative of school-based transmission,” Walensky said.
“We have not yet seen evidence of significant transmission of Covid-19 within schools when schools have fully implemented CDC’s mitigation guidance,” she said.
The CDC director also highlighted an uptick in Covid-19 cases and emergency room visits among younger adults, most of whom have not yet been vaccinated.