St. Louis County executive defends decision over youth sports as protests continue
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the county is doing what it can to help kids play sports while keeping them safe during the COVID-19 health pandemic.
Page gave an update on the coronavirus situation in the county during a regularly schedule Monday morning briefing. The live stream came just a few hours before families are expected to hold another protest over youth sports restrictions.
You can watch Page’s full briefing in the video player below or by clicking here.
Page’s briefing focused on the importance of getting flu shots this year, but the question-and-answer portion centered on St. Louis County’s youth sports guidelines.
Page said the guidelines stem from COVID-19 data that shows a 20% positivity rate among kids ages 15-19 years old. He said the guidelines were developed by public health experts and that the St. Louis youth sports task force agrees with the county’s plan.
They’re designed not to hurt student athletes but to protect them, Page said.
He added there is evidence of COVID-19 transmission among players on teams that are practicing and scrimmaging, and some teams have had to quarantine because of the virus — and that’s without teams playing competitively against each other.
The county executive stressed that the restrictions are tighter than some parts of the St. Louis area and the state, but that they’re looser than the City of St. Louis and parts of Illinois. He said St. Louis County’s youth sports guidelines fall in line with what states are doing across the country.
The safety of kids is the top priority, he said.
“We’re going to work with our sports community to do what we think is safe to protect kids and that will be our top priority,” Page said Monday. “And to get as much sports activity as possible… as we believe that is safe. We will continue to follow the advice of our medical experts and public health experts in all of our guidelines that we propose in St. Louis County.”
On Friday, the county’s updated restrictions went into place. Younger athletes and those participating in low-contact sports are now allowed to compete in games against other teams in the St. Louis area.
However, games involving older teens and high-contact sports are still off-limits. That has prompted at least a couple of protests involving hundreds of people.
On Sunday, a large group gathered at the edge of Page’s Creve Coeur neighborhood, chanting the message “let them play”.
Another protest is planned for noon Monday outside the St. Louis County administration building, which is where Page is set to give his live briefing Monday morning. Page has not given an agenda for what he plans to talk about during his Monday morning live stream.
Last week, the county executive defended the decision to continue restricting some youth sports activities, saying the guidelines fall in line with recommendations from public health experts.
The positivity rate for teens ages 15-19 is five times higher than the rate for kids younger than 10, according to St. Louis County’s coronavirus data. He called it a “very alarming positivity rate” for the older teens.
“That combined with some high-contact youth sports has led our public health experts and advisers to determine that there are some types of youth sports that should be restricted in their activities, games and competitions and should only be allowed to scrimmage and practice,” Page said.