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COVID-19 cases soar among youth sports

In March there was a 36% jump in COVID-19 cases among school-aged kids in Douglas County.
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - 10-year-old Alfredo Velasquez is back on the field and loving it.

“I like the sport. I love it. I just want to be good at it and successful and succeed in life,” he said. His dad is also happy to see him back at it.

“It has been really tough for him to not practice and play the sport he loves to play,” he said.

But health officials are calling for continued caution.

“I know that in Nebraska we love our sports, and if we want to continue to allow our kids to play we just need to remain cautious,” Justin Federick, Supervisor of Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Douglas County Health Department.

March saw a 36% jump in COVID-19 cases among school-aged kids in Douglas County. A nationwide trend, the CDC is linking the increase to youth sports, something local officials aren’t quite ready to do.

“At this point in time, we’re not able to say whether or not this is due to athletics in this community; but I think it’s important that parents and coaches stay vigilant,” Frederick said.

Mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing are as important as ever, experts say.

“It’s really important, and I want to stress that parents are transparent with coaches and schools,” Frederick said. “Keeping their kids home when they’re sick, or keeping them home when if they know they’ve had a known exposure and should be quarantining.”

At Omaha Sports Complex, they’re trying to hold back the virus.

“We don’t allow spectators, so parents can’t come to any of the games or watch their kids play,” said Greg Waldron, Director of Facilities at Omaha Sports Complex.

Off the field, masks are a must, But they’re not required on the field.

“We do have quite a few teams that wear the masks even while they’re playing, but as it gets warmer that gets less,” Waldron said.

As for Alfredo, it’s up to him whether he wears a mask on the field.

“He has a dream and wants to do his best all the time, so he prefers not to use it and we’re flexible with that,” his father said.

And he’s not too concerned about catching COVID-19.

“Ah, no. I just want to do my best every time. I try to be safe every day, wash my hands, wear a mask, and be careful.”

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