Game on! That's the message Friday in both Illinois and New York as officials green-lighted all high school sports — including those deemed "high risk" — beginning as soon as Feb. 1. The resumption would be the first action in Illinois since the state basketball championships were canceled March 12.
Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Friday that state regions reaching Phase 4 of COVID-19
mitigations can play all sports, including basketball, football and wrestling, according to the Chicago Sun Times
. Three of Illinois' 11 regions are in Phase 4 currently, with three others one step below that. Phase 4 benchmarks include: Test positivity rate below 6.5 percent for
three straight days, staffed ICU-bed availability to be greater than 20
percent for three consecutive days and no sustained increase in
hospitalized COVID patients for a seven-day average.
Football has been slated to begin in Illinois on Feb. 15 and the Sun Times reported it wasn't known if basketball would begin immediately or if the season would be delayed.
High-risk sports such as football, basketball and wrestling are allowed, under the updated Illinois guidelines, to compete at Level 3, which calls for intra-conference or region play only. Low- and medium-risk sports would be allowed to participate in tournaments, out-of-conference and league play.
Meanwhile, guidelines from the New York Department of Health read in part that “participants in higher risk sports and
recreation activities may partake in individual or distanced group
training and organized no/low-contact group training and, further, may
partake in other types of play, including competitions and tournaments,
only as permitted by the respective local health authorities."
As with Illinois, New York charges local health officials with authorizing play based on local COVID-19 rates and monitoring.
"I couldn’t be more happy or excited to get out there and finally be
able to play," Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball player Momo LaClair told Syracuse.com
. "This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for and I think I speak for
everyone when I say we won’t let this season go to waste."
The decision to play comes as other states including Western states like Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California grapple with growing calls to allow sports to resume. A group of California coaches has asked to meet with Gov. Gavin Newsom and re-evaluate tying youth sports to the state's colored-tier system.