Fall sports season will culminate with high school football section playoffs happening the next few weeks, but whether those games are allowed to be played amid Minnesota's rapidly rising COVID-19 crisis is becoming uncertain.
On Monday, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm confirmed that she and other public health leaders are urging the Department of Education and the Minnesota State High School League to bring all youth and high school sports to a halt.
"We're really looking at where the data are," said Malcolm. "The number of cases we've seen associated with sports has been growing, so we are urging there to be a pause on play and on practice. We're in dialogue right now with our colleagues in education and the high school league.
"From a health advice standpoint, we'd really like to see sports put on pause," Malcolm added.
According to MDH's Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease, there have been 46 COVID-19 outbreaks linked to hockey, 41 with volleyball, 35 with football, 20 with basketball and 15 with soccer.
"We know that overall, at least 10% of all the cases in school are associated with sports," said Ehresmann, adding that two unidentified schools were forced to move to distance learning "just because of sports exposures."
Gov. Tim Walz said new guidance on youth and high school sports will be issued within the next day or so.
"The issue around athletics is always an incredibly tough one," said Walz. "I think you'll be seeing some guidance come from the state on this within the next day or so. I think we've had deep concern about competition among schools in differing areas and we're even seeing interstate play amongst club sports and those are starting to show some pretty high numbers springing up."
Football and volleyball seasons started later than usual and were already going without state tournaments due to not having enough time to play enough regular season and playoff games, and many winter sports were pushed back due to the fall sports seasons starting late.
We'll have more information once new guidance is issued.