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Coronavirus

Hillsborough County sets safety guidelines for fans

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Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis announced safety measures for fans attending athletic events this fall.

Among the spectator procedures in place.

  • Masks will be required
  • Each participant (athlete, band member, cheerleader) is allowed to have four fans in attendance. They must still purchase a ticket.
  • The four designated fans for each participant must sit together in a pod.
  • The stands or bleachers at each event will be marked to adhere to social distancing.
  • Tickets will be sold online through the school’s website and proof will be required at the gate in a digital form.

The school district also set guidelines for athletes who set positive for coronavirus.

  • Any athlete who tests positive must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days starting from the positive test date
  • The athlete must complete quarantine and go 24 hours without any fever and medication to return.
  • The athlete is required to be cleared by a physician.
  • Any teammates and staff exposed to an athlete who tested positive must quarantine for 14 days. This is due to the 2-13 day incubation period when a person can develop viral shedding and potential symptoms.
  • The CDC defines close contact as anyone who comes within six feet of someone infected for at least 15 minutes without protective equipment or a face covering.
  • If an athlete is symptomatic and awaiting test results, they will be treated as a positive case until results return.

Last week, Hillsborough and Jefferson each had a football player test positive. The two players had to quarantine along with their position groups.

Because of having so many players out for a two-week period, both schools had to cancel their season openers on Sept. 11. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Hillsborough and Jefferson will meet in the regular season finale on Nov. 6.

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Baseball

No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

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Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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Coronavirus

COVID case ends Osceola’s volleyball season

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Osceola, which made the Class 5A region finals in volleyball last season, had to forfeit Monday’s district quarterfinal match because its entire junior varsity and varsity teams are quarantining after a player tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said.  

By forfeiting, the Warriors ended their season. They were ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A and were expected to go on another deep playoff run.

“We have to follow what the health officials tell us,” Bennett said. “It’s tough because Osceola is one of our best volleyball teams in the county. I talked to the Florida High School Athletic Association and they said there were plenty of other teams around the state in the same situation.”

Under CDC and Pinellas County health department guidelines, any student athlete who tests positive must be quarantined, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15-minute duration without any face covering. Osceola’s quarantine ends on Oct. 19, a week after the district tournament.. 

All the players have currently tested negative, including the one who was originally positive. But the quarantine did not end. The Warriors also had to postpone their appearance in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. That title game against St. Petersburg will be made up once the Green Devils’ season ends. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the seniors to have their season end this way, but we’re really excited for the chance to play the PCAC Final at home for senior night as our last match of the season, against our toughest competition, St Petersburg,” Osceola coach Ashley Martin said.”It will feel like a state championship since a trophy is involved.”    

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Coronavirus

PHU cancels season opener after a football player tests positive for coronavirus

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Palm Harbor University’s season opener against rival East Lake this Friday has been cancelled after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett confirmed in a text message.

It was unclear how many PHU players are currently under quarantine. According to CDC and county health department guidelines, a player who tests positive must quarantine, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15 minute duration with a face covering.

The Hurricanes next game is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Wharton. Bennett said the school is looking into moving that game to Saturday or Monday to avoid another cancellation.

The Eagles will now host Sarasota Riverview in Friday’s opener.

This is the fourth area football program that had to cancel its season opener after having a player test positive for the virus.

Hillsborough and Jefferson, which were supposed to play on Friday, both have players under quarantine. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Zephyrhills is in a similar situation and had to cancel its first two games.

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