Coach: Michigan high school sports COVID-19 testing adds logistical challenge

All athletes on school, club or recreational teams need weekly tests under new state order
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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DAVISON, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan high school athletic coaches and athletes have another logistical challenge to navigate with an increased weekly COVID-19 testing requirement from state health officials.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the new weekly testing regimen on Friday for all athletes, as the number of COVID-19 outbreaks involving young athletes increases. According to the latest state data, 315 COVID-19 outbreaks in recent months have been linked to sports teams.

The required testing program, which takes effect on April 2, is designed to catch single cases before they spread to other members of the team. It applies to all school, club or recreational sports teams.

”You got to make sure all the kids get there at set time and they all have to get tested,” said Davison High School football and track coach Jake Weingartz. “You know how high school kids are -- some are going to come in a few minutes late, which is going to kick your practice back. It’s just tough for the kids.”

This won’t be Weingartz’s first experience with having to test athletes for COVID-19. Earlier this school year, when he coached the Davison football team to the state finals, all athletes were required to test for COVID-19 three times a week.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is providing free antigen testing kits, which will provide results within 15 minutes.

“That was probably the thing that was most difficult with our kids is they had a lot of anxiety, just going to get tested because they had worked for a very long time to get to where they were,” Weingartz said.

While the final details are worked out regarding the frequency of testing, he is grateful athletes will get to play and compete in spring sports unlike last year. The Michigan High School Athletic Association called off the entire spring sports season in 2020 as COVID-19 spread across the state.

MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl was waiting for more answers and guidance from state health officials on specifics of the testing program. He also is is also trying to get more clarification regarding requirements for face masks and spring sports.

Unlike during the winter season, all but two spring sports -- lacrosse and soccer -- are considered noncontact.

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