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Tuesdays keep getting better for local high school sports.
The California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 update on Tuesday, March 16 revealed an adjusted case rate per 100,000 for Ventura County of 6.5. By falling below 7.0, high school football and water polo teams in the county won’t be required to do coronavirus testing before competitions.
Ventura County’s adjusted rate last week was 9.1.
“This is great news,” Simi Valley High football coach Jim Benkert said. “We’ve already tested this week in preparation for Royal on Friday, but we’ll see what the district wants us to do moving forward.”
Royal coach Christian Dearborn said his players had already tested this week, too. The test results for both teams are expected Wednesday.
There was a collective sigh of relief from high school football and water polo coaches last week when Los Angeles County’s adjusted rate dropped below 7.0 for the first time since the California Department of Public Health established that as a guideline for youth sports. Coaches have worried about having games canceled over a failed test result, which could end up being a false positive.
It happened last week when Mission Viejo had a positive test in its program and had to cancel its game against La Habra. But Chaminade stepped in to host La Habra in an impromptu game Friday night.
Some schools in L.A. County have continued to test their teams despite it no longer being required by the state. It’s possible some school districts might make required testing part of their policy.
“I feel better safe than sorry,” said Benkert. “If it’s what the district wants us to do, then we’ll do it.”
It’s certainly a nerve-wracking situation for athletic programs. Simi Valley, for example, has 109 players on its junior varsity and varsity football teams.
“It absolutely makes me nervous because one positive test could shut us all down,” Dearborn said. “We’ve been working extremely hard and that would be devastating to lose a game. Our players have made a great commitment to following protocols on campus, and families in our program have made commitments at home to put their players in the safest environments as possible.”
Royal hosts Simi Valley on Friday at 7 p.m.
The county case rates are updated each Tuesday. If a county goes up and above a rate of 7.0, the testing requirement is immediately restored for football and water polo teams.
Updated adjusted case rates Tuesday for other local counties: L.A. County 4.1; Orange County 4.0; Riverside County 6.1; and San Bernardino County 5.2.