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The Washington Post: Covid-19 vs. indoor and outdoor sports. How to safely play various games

By Emily Sohn

In normal times, sports keep kids and adults active through the winter. During a pandemic, they are fraught with questions: How much air flow is in the gym, rink or pool? What are the chances that a virus will spread from one player to another when players are breathing hard? Is it safe to play indoor sports at all?

As with everything related to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the illness is too new for there to be much data yet on such specific questions. And with rapid spread of the virus throughout the country, some regions have taken action to prevent people from exercising indoors at all. 

Where indoors sports are allowed, experts say that parents can assess risk based on knowledge of how the virus spreads, along with studies that investigate transmission of other infectious diseases through athletic events. Factors to consider include ventilation, number and proximity of players, adherence to mask-wearing and community rates of infection.

Airborne and vaccine-preventable diseases such as chickenpox, measles and influenza can also spread through sports as wide-ranging as gymnastics and skiing, according to the report. Transmission happens through not only physical contact but also gym mats, water bottles and other equipment. Occasionally players come into contact with the bodily fluids of others.

Respiratory illnesses aren’t as well-studied as skin infections in the context of sports, but they do happen, says Mary Anne Jackson, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital and co-author of the Pediatrics paper.

For those who want to keep playing organized sports indoors as safely as possible, experts recommend looking closely at a team’s policies. Details to consider include mask-wearing, playing in small groups, regular cleaning of surfaces, screening for symptoms and even periodic testing.


Read the full story via The Washington Post

Learn more about Safe Return to Sport from Children's Mercy