Infectious Disease Expert Weighs in on College vs. High School Sports
Our Lady of the Lake infectious disease expert Dr. Catherine O’Neal says it is not safe to have fall contact high school sports right now but says she is optimistic about college athletics.
O’Neal says before K-12 contact sports can resume the state needs to prove it can reopen schools without having to shut communities down due to outbreaks.
“I do not think that we can even really even begin to talk about contact sports and activities outside of the classrooms until we show that we can come back to class safely,” says O’Neal.
Fall high school football is set to resume October 8th, but the LHSAA says the state will have to be in Phase Three for that to happen.
Governor Edwards says the state is hovering around ten percent positivity on COVID test results. O’Neal says we’d need to be at half that rate.
“When we get to numbers like five percent positivity we can start talking about doing things safely and proceeding with opening up more at school. When we are above ten percent I think we really just need to talk about how to be safe in the classroom,” says O’Neal.
O’Neal says some areas, such as New Orleans, are nearing that five percent mark but regions like Acadiana and Baton Rouge are a good bit above ten percent.
O’Neal says unlike high school sports, college sports have the resources and lower numbers to proceed. LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan feels that we may even be able to have fans in Tiger Stadium.
“The wonderful thing about football is that it is outside and we know that this virus does not survive as well outside as it does inside,” says Galligan, who did caution that occupancy limits of 30-50 percent are being considered for LSU football games.
Tens of thousands of fans flood LSU for football game-day tailgating, but Galligan warns that likely will not be the case this fall.
“If we can have fans we are probably going to urge a lot of the people who do not have tickets to the games to not come to the campus,” says Galligan.
Both O’Neal and Galligan made the comments Monday on Talk Louisiana.
(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)