Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, announced Wednesday that the county will follow updated state youth sports guidelines, clearing the way for outdoor high school sports teams to begin full practices and games on Friday if their schools and districts allow while following safety protocols.
The state guidelines permit outside sports to take place in counties that have reached an adjusted daily rate of 14 or fewer new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. Los Angeles County's rate was 12.3 as of Tuesday.
Full football practices in pads can begin Friday for teams that began conditioning on Tuesday. Soccer games are permitted to begin among Southern Section teams on Saturday.
The beginning of a full outdoor sports environment ends a shutdown in Los Angeles County that began last March. On Jan. 25, state guidelines allowed cross-country, tennis, golf and track and field competitions to resume.
There are specific protocols for youth and adult sports to resume, including required weekly testing of athletes and coaches for football and water polo.
"I know how excited people are," Ferrer said. "I would say I hear from many, many, many parents about their desire and need for their children to get back to playing sports they love. I know this is good news for so many, but I am going to temper that with let's do this carefully. Some of the largest outbreaks we had were actually not associated with students or classroom activities but were associated with youth sports teams.
"So people have to follow the rules. We think this can resume with a lot of safety, but then everybody has to play by those rules, and I think sports teams more than a lot of sectors are used to playing by rules. I would urge everyone to look what is required to put in as much safety as possible so it doesn’t end up hurting us as we continue to try to drive down community transmission rates across the county."
Also Wednesday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Earl H. Maas reaffirmed his decision that all youth sports within San Diego County can start immediately with no ambiguity.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.