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Judge rejects Let Them Play challenge to masks, coronavirus tests for athletes

High school football players on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing for 'Let...
High school football players on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing for 'Let Them Play' rally.(Jason Lewis/WJRT)
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:10 PM EDT
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DETROIT (AP) - A judge has rejected a request to stop regular coronavirus testing of Michigan school athletes and other steps ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Judge Michael Kelly says an injunction isn’t appropriate at this stage because a group called Let Them Play Michigan is unlikely to win the case.

The group argued that health department orders, especially weekly COVID-19 testing, should have gone through a formal rule-making process. But the judge says state law “plainly gives” authority to the health director to issue emergency orders in response to a pandemic.

Kelly heard arguments from attorneys in the lawsuit remotely on Wednesday.

A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order requires all youth or high school sports athletes, coaches and team officials to undergo a rapid antigen COVID-19 test at least once a week to continue participating.

Anyone who tests positive with the rapid antigen test must isolate and receive a traditional COVID-19 test, which can take days for results. Anyone who tests positive there or develops COVID-19 symptoms must follow the state’s guidelines for quarantining or isolation.

The quarantine regulations cost the Hemlock High School girls basketball team a chance to play for a state championship earlier this year.

A state public health order also requires athletes to wear face coverings during practices and competitions when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. The order does not apply to high school swimmers, divers or gymnasts.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.