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UW Study: School sports don’t increase COVID-19 cases

Metro Wire Staff

A study conducted by the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health concluded participation in high school sports in Wisconsin has not led to an increase in COVID-19 infections among high school student-athletes.

The COVID-19 in Wisconsin High School Athletics study, conducted by Dr. Andrew Watson and his research team, reveals the case and incidence rate of a statewide sampling, which represented 30,000 student-athletes, is actually lower than those reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for those 14-17 years of age.

The survey found that no sport had a statistically higher incidence rate than that of teenagers during the same period of time.

According to the study, only one case—or 0.5 percent of the reported cases—was attributed to transmission during sports activities.

Another finding of the study confirms existing literature regarding the severity of COVID-19 in children. There were no cases reported that resulted in hospitalization or death, the study said.

“An encouraging and significant aspect of the study’s conclusion highlights the efforts of member schools to follow the prescribed guidelines developed by the WIAA’s Sports Medical Advisory Committee,” the study reads in part. “All schools responding to the study reported having a formal plan in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and most indicated they used a broad range of procedures to reduce risk of exposure and infection.”

Along with the study’s findings, the research team acknowledges the risk of COVID-19 will vary in different areas and across age groups.

“They encourage expanded and replicated research in other populations to greater assess risk of COVID-19 among youth athletes and provide a more complete picture of COVID-19 transmission during sports participation,” a news release from WIAA reads in part.

The WIAA is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The membership oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 514 senior high schools and 48 junior high/middle schools in its membership.

For more information, please contact the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health at [email protected]