COVID-19: State officials hopeful for fall start for high school sports
By ERIN ROLL
High school sports await permission from the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association before they can proceed, but Gov. Phil Murphy said he was optimistic that sports would be given the go-ahead.
Sports that play outside are likely to proceed, while volleyball and gymnastics, which are both indoor sports, may be affected by the requirements. There are between 700 and 900 students who participate in those sports, Murphy said.
A student’s learning status — remote or in-person — will not affect their ability to participate in sports, said Murphy.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who is also a high school football coach in Hackensack, said school sports had mental and emotional health benefits, as well as physical health benefits. Sen. Paul Sarlo said he is worried that if NJSIAA-sanctioned sports didn’t go ahead, other sports organizations that do not follow the same standards would try to take their place.
Wimberly concurred that there were sports organizations watching the NJSIAA and high school sports and waiting for them to “fold.”
Murphy said some school districts have already declared that they will not hold fall sports this year.
In an Aug. 14 letter to Montclair parents, Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said while the district awaited a decision from NJSIAA, fall sports would most likely be held.
Unlike high school sports, Murphy said, college sports see a lot of travel, including to parts of the country that may be seeing high rates of COVID-19.
On Monday, officials reported 316 new cases, compared to 585 cases reported on Friday.
However, the state subtracted another 300 cases, which were reported last week, from the overall total since they were determined to have been out-of-state cases. The lab handling those cases had assigned those numbers to New Jersey by mistake, Murphy said. The state total now stands at 187,767.
Officials reported four more deaths, down from 10 on Friday, bringing the state total to 14,077. The number of probable cases remains at 1,839.
The virus transmission rate has started to creep back up, and now stands at 1.03, up from 0.92 on Friday. The positivity rate of tests saw a slight increase from 1.63 percent to 1.65 percent.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that last week, officials saw an increase in the number of cases in which the case could not be tied to a particular county. It was determined, she said, that one of the reporting labs made an error when it was sending data to New Jersey, and those cases were actually from non-New Jersey residents. Those cases have been removed from the count.
On Sunday, hospitals reported 472 hospitalizations, including 91 critical care patients and 38 ventilators in use. By comparison, on Thursday, hospitals reported 514 hospitalizations, 91 critical care patients and 35 ventilators in use.
Essex County officials reported two new cases on Monday now totaling 19,757. The number of deaths was revised downward from 1,857 on Sunday to 1,852 on Monday.
Montclair health officials reported that the number of cases on Sunday remained at 486 cases and 54 deaths.