Top doctors in Madison County not on same page about high school sports during coronavirus pandemic

One doctor told us if it's not safe for in-person learning, then it's not safe for sports.

Posted: Jul 24, 2020 6:11 PM
Updated: Jul 24, 2020 6:35 PM

Two of the top doctors in Madison County are not on the same page when it comes to high school sports.

Dr. Karen Landers, Madison County's Health Officer, said it's up to school districts and the athletic association to decide if sports are safe for students.

WAAY 31 asked Landers if she thought football was safe and she didn't give a definitive answer.

"Engaging in sports activities, there obviously could be some close contact," she said.

Landers wouldn't share if she believes students playing sports this fall is safe. The school districts told us earlier this week, they consulted with Landers before deciding on online-only learning for the first nine weeks.

"I think those decisions have to be made and looked at in context of the community and the context of the potential spread of COVID-19," she said.

Dr. Ali Houssan is the infectious disease specialist for hospitals in Madison County. His answer is clear, resuming sports is not a good decision.

"It's very, very difficult to play a contact sport in a pandemic. When you do a contact sport, that's the easiest way of transmission from one person to another. I really don't think it's a good decision at the moment to do that," he said.

WAAY 31 pressed Landers on why the health department helped schools decide to keep students out of the classroom but not off the ball field.

"I think we have to look at it in terms of the health and well-being of the players. Certainly, people shouldn't be playing if they're sick. They shouldn't be playing if they're mildly sick, and they shouldn't be playing if they're a contact of a case," she said.

Houssan was clear if in-person instruction isn't safe, neither is sports.

"That's puzzling to me. If we are really trying to do our best to reduce transmission and said schools should be virtual for at least or remote for the first nine weeks, I don't know how a contact sport, initiating it now, is not going to affect transmission," he said.

None of the three districts in Madison County have announced plans for fall sports yet after the Alabama High School Athletic Association just released more guidance on Thursday.

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