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Sports >  High school sports

Washington regions fail to meet COVID metrics, high school sports still in limbo; Idaho increases spectator limits

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 22, 2021

For the second week in a row, none of the eight regions set up by the Washington State Department of Health is qualified to move into Phase 2 of the state’s “Roadmap to Recovery” plan.

The news is actually worse than that, as most regions saw an uptick in various metrics, instead of showing the required drops needed to advance.

In the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s guidelines for the return of athletics, only low-risk, outdoors sports may allow competitions under Phase 1. All other sports must wait until Phase 2 in order to conduct competitions.

Last week, for the time period of Dec. 20-Jan. 2, the East Region (comprised of Spokane County and eight others) met three of the four metrics in order to reopen, failing only in the seven-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests.

In this week’s report, for the time period of Dec. 27-Jan. 9, the region failed in test rates (21%) and trend in 14-day rate of new cases per 100,000 population (+12%).

The two metrics the region met were rate of new hospitalizations (-20%) and occupancy of ICU beds (82%).

New COVID-19 cases per 100K were up in six of the eight regions and up 19% statewide.

To advance to Phase 2, regions must have:

  • A 10% decreasing trend in case rates.
  • A 10% decrease in COVID hospital admission rates.
  • An ICU occupancy rate less than 90%.
  • A test positivity rate of less than 10%.

A region must meet all four criteria before moving to Phase 2.

Once in Phase 2, low, moderate and outdoors high-risk sports competitions will be allowed with up to 200 spectators. The state has yet to issue guidance on criteria that need to be met in order for high-risk indoor contact sports (basketball, wrestling) to begin.

Last Friday, in conjunction with the WIAA guidelines, the Greater Spokane League released a staggered tentative schedule for the return of fall sports. Its earliest season, for volleyball and girls swim/dive, is scheduled to begin Feb. 8, pending next week’s metrics.

Under the WIAA guidelines, the league can delay its starting dates as the metrics are updated.

On Wednesday, the Northeast 1A league released its delayed tentative schedule, with no sports contests slated to start before March 1.

Idaho allows more fans

Across the state border, where they’ve been playing sports since the start of the school year, the Idaho State Board of Education, along with Gov. Brad Little’s office, released new guidelines Friday allowing more spectators into high school athletic events.

Under the new guidance, schools can allow up to 40% of their gymnasium’s capacity, or up to four spectators per student-athlete (whichever is larger) as long as physical distancing requirements can be maintained or masks are worn.

The updated plan, developed by the governor’s office and the office of the state board of education, covers the remainder of the 2020-21 winter sports school year and is “consistent with the requirements of Gov . Brad Little’s Idaho Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order,” according to the board of education release.

“All of our decisions related to the Idaho Rebounds plan have been rooted in detailed metrics related to virus activity and impacts on our health care system,” Little said in a release on Wednesday. “Thanks to the good actions of the people of Idaho to slow the spread of the virus in our communities, we are seeing a continued decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.”

Since Dec. 30, Idaho had been allowing two spectators per athlete.

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