State increases outdoor stadium capacity, COVID-19 testing in youth sports

Posted at 9:31 AM, Mar 19, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — High school student athletes will be required to get tested for COVID-19 before all sports practices and competitions in response to outbreaks tracked to these events, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday.

The requirement goes into effect April 2.

In the meantime, outdoor stadiums will be allowed to go up to 20% capacity with certain mitigations in place.

"Our season kicks off June 2nd and we are thrilled to be able to host more fans in the ballpark this season," Growlers manager Brian Colopy told Fox 17. "We were one of the very few in the country to be able to host fans safely this past summer so our staff is prepared to welcome more fans this year."

The changes are designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and trying to save lives, according to a news release Friday.

Vaccinated individuals will also be allowed to remove their masks in residential gatherings – if all participants have been vaccinated against the virus.

That’s in line with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control release last week.

Changes to the state's public health order go into effect Monday and will remain in effect through April 19.

Whitmer emphasized the importance of continuing to follow public health measures and keep tracking cases of the UK and South African variants.

"This pandemic has been hard on all of us, but by staying focused on acting quickly, following the science and listening to experts, we can save lives and help our economy recover faster," Whitmer said. "Today's action is an important step towards normalcy, but there's still more work to do. As always, mask up, maintain social distancing and wash your hands. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus so we can end this pandemic together."

Case rates are now at 173 cases per million – a 77% increase since mid-February, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

RELATED: Michigan seeing concerning rise in COVID-19 cases; 5th-highest rate in US over past week

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Cases are increasing in all age groups, but most of all in the 10- to 19-year-old age group.

Test positivity is now at 6.2%, and 4.9% of available inpatient beds in hospitals are now being used to care for COVID-19 patients.

On the vaccination front, more than 3.2 million doses have been administered as of the most recent available numbers.

RELATED: COVID-19 data as of March 18, 2021

Eligibility for the vaccine will expand to all Michigan adults 16 and up on April 5 after expanding to those 50 and up or 16 and up with underlying health conditions or disabilities on March 22.

RELATED: Michigan: All adults eligible for vaccine April 5