On Friday, September 10, 2021, the Calaveras County Health Officer upgraded the guidance for youth extracurricular activities and youth sports released on August 23, 2021 to an order. The order comes at a time when COVID-19 cases have surged in the county, including the quarantine of a local school sports team stemming from a recent exposure to COVID-19. The order was done in collaboration with the Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools and other school partners. The order goes into effect starting Monday, September 13, and will remain in effect until it is rescinded. Adherence to the order applies to all extracurricular and organized youth activities that occur before or after school, on school campuses or in the community, public or private.
Late last month, the Calaveras County Health Officer issued voluntary guidance for youth sports and other extracurricular youth activities in hopes that any risk of COVID-19 infections would be avoided. Since the guidance was issued, COVID-19 has surged, more COVID-19 patients have required hospital care, and the County’s only hospital, Mark Twain Medical Center recently reported that they were nearing capacity. Calaveras County is also seeing a concerning uptick in cases among children under the age of eighteen. Local public health officials are also worried about serious infections, hospitalizations, and deaths involving children becoming increasingly common both statewide and nationwide.
“We have seen a dramatic rise in Calaveras County students being quarantined or in isolation because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who was,” said Dr. René Ramirez, Calaveras County Health Officer. “The county’s low vaccination rate coupled with mask refusal leaves Calaveras children more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. This order outlines what schools must adhere to so that we prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our schools and communities and to avoid cancellation of sports altogether,” added Dr. Ramirez.
Vaccination is strongly recommended for all eligible people. Extracurricular activities should take place outdoors and/or distanced when feasible. Masks are required indoors for all individuals in K-12 schools. This applies to all teachers, staff, students, game officials, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required when actively participating in sports or extracurricular activity when a mask cannot be worn. Under the local order, masks are required during outdoor events for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, when there is sustained contact of 3 feet or less for a duration of 15 minutes or more.
In areas of high transmission, the CDC recommends canceling high risk sports and extracurricular activities. Under the local order, testing is required in lieu of cancelling these activities. Routine testing will be required for participants, regardless of vaccination status.
Schools will continue to follow CDPH Guidance for K-12 Schools which outlines what youth and adults should do if they have symptoms of COVID-19, quarantine and isolation instructions if exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if they test positive for COVID-19, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and vaccine verification.
Local schools in collaboration with Public Health staff continue to investigate new cases to determine any possible students who may have had close personal contact with positive individuals. The current COVID-19 surge is likely caused by factors such as an increase of the Delta variant, mask refusal, communities with low vaccination rates, and easing of prevention and control measures. According to the CDC, most hospitalizations and deaths have been among the unvaccinated. The best protection there is against COVID-19 is to get fully vaccinated. People can schedule a free COVID-19 vaccine appointment by visiting myturn.ca.gov.
Calaveras Public Health encourages the community to stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as:
- Getting vaccinated
- Wearing a mask
- Getting tested for COVID-19
- Staying at least 6 feet from others
- Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing signs, seek emergency care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- New confusion or weakness
- Bluish lips or face
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Inability to wake or stay awake
For information about testing and vaccination visit the Calaveras County COVID-19 website https://covid19.calaverasgov.us/