COVID-19 testing rules tweaked for youth sports participants and adult staffers and volunteers in L.A. County

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Monday that athletes and staff members will have a bit more wiggle room with the timing of their pregame COVID-19 tests.

In guidance that takes effect on Wednesday, the department allows testing to take place three days before a competition between teams, instead of 72 hours, and the time limit “does not depend on the time of the competition or the time of day that the test was administered.”

This rule change allows for “more flexibility” for athletes and coaches, the department added.

The department also clarified that these requirements only apply to teams based in the county, not teams coming from outside the department’s jurisdiction for competitions.

The weekly testing requirements for other team activities will remain in place, though they depend on the nature of the sport — whether it’s played indoors or outdoors — and the vaccination status of each individual.

The previously announced requirement that some athletes wear masks, even during practices and competition, also remains in place.

Unvaccinated people — including youth athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers — must provide weekly negative test results to participate in team activities, though that requirement can be fulfilled by the regular COVID-19 testing that is done at schools.

Children under the age of 12 and fully vaccinated people who are participating in outdoor sports won’t be required to undergo regular testing beyond what occurs at school except when there is a positive test on the team or in the coaching staff.

In those cases, fully vaccinated children playing outdoor sports and their coaches, staff and volunteers will need to return negative test results for the two-week period following exposure and must test negative before games.

If children under age 12 are participating in multi-county, multi-day competitions of certain outdoor sports— like cheerleading, dance, soccer and football — a negative test within three days before their first game is recommended.

In the same release announcing the changes to youth sports testing procedures, the department also confirmed that six more people died of COVID-19 and there were 2,339 new cases reported in Los Angeles County Monday.

Also as of Monday, 1,687 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, and the number of hospitalizations has decreased for five days in a row.

“We send our deepest sympathies to the friends and families grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health, in a statement. “We are grateful to the schools, districts, youth sport programs and parents who have worked so hard in ensuring the safety of students, teachers, athletes, and the many staff.”

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