Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, Nov. 22 @ 5:03 p.m. / COVID-19, Education
Del Norte Public Health Officer OKs Testing In Lieu of Masking for Student Athletes, Officials and Staff During Sports
Del Norte County’s public health officer decided that those engaged in youth sports can do so unmasked provided they test for COVID-19 weekly.
Dr. Aaron Stutz’s ruling Monday added student athletes, staff and referees and other officials to a list of individuals exempt from wearing face coverings.
The order also requires sports organizations to keep a record of individuals tested for COVID-19, the type of tests performed and their results and make them available to the Del Norte Public Health Branch upon request.
Under the new guidance, face masks are no longer required at crowded outdoor spaces and events.
Stutz’s new guidance comes after parents and coaches aired concerns at a Del Norte Unified School District meeting Thursday about detrimental effects to children’s health wearing masks during strenuous physical activity may pose.
They also stated that conflicting guidance at the state level over masking during indoor sports, specifically basketball and volleyball, resulted in canceled games.
The amended order also comes after Stutz stated to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors last month that he wanted to extend the requirement to wear face coverings indoors the Public Health Branch implemented during the Delta surge in August.
Twelve new COVID-19 cases were reported to the Public Health Branch on Monday. One new incarcerated case was also reported to the Public Health Branch.
There are currently a total of 30 active cases in Del Norte County, according to the county's COVID-19 Information Hub.
From a Del Norte Public Health Branch news release:
ORDER OF THE DEL NORTE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER FOR THE WEARING OF FACE COVERINGS IN WORKPLACES AND PUBLIC SETTINGS DATE OF ORDER:
Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code sections 120295, et seq.)
SUMMARY OF THIS ORDER: This Order amends the Order from November 3rd, 2021 requiring all individuals to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, as well as outdoor crowded public spaces and events, with limited exemptions, and recommends that businesses and events make face coverings available to individuals entering these spaces. Facial coverings are no longer required at crowded outdoor spaces and events. Facial coverings are no loner required by youth sports teams and officials and staff engaged in youth sports programs that can test participants with at least once weekly frequency.
BACKGROUND: Since June 2021 when most restrictions from the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy were lifted, the average daily incident case rate of COVID-19 in Del Norte County has increased significantly to reach the “High Transmission” level of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) Indicators for Levels of Community Transmission. This resulted in a surge of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Del Norte County which subsequently caused significant strain on our rural healthcare infrastructure and requiring resource requests from the state. The significantly more transmissible Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has become the predominant strain in the US and this is likely so in Del Norte County. While the vast majority of cases have occurred among unvaccinated persons, the increase in cases among fully vaccinated persons has also increased. Recent statewide data demonstrates over 90% of tested samples in California are Delta variant. The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the US have been shown to be highly safe and effective at providing protection to individuals and communities, particularly against severe COVID-19 disease and death, and are recommended by the CDC for all populations for whom the vaccine is authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.
In considering options to stem this rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, a continued increase in the proportion of the population vaccinated is necessary but not sufficient. Universal use of face coverings in all public settings, including all indoor as well as crowded outdoor settings and events, was an appropriate intervention during this summer's surge in cases and the least disruptive and most immediately effective additional measure that could have been undertaken.
Since that time, the number of new cases, the testing positivity rate, and new hospitalizations and deaths have decreased, but not to pre-surge levels. Therefore the health officer is amending the previous order and will continue to assess the public health situation as it evolves.