Could testing keep athletes in play?

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | October 28, 2020 7:00 AM

When school sports started this fall I gave them a slight chance of success. I suspected there would simply be too many coronavirus cases. That has proven to not be the case, at least with most schools, including Columbia Falls.

Yes, some students have gotten the virus, but so far, not from teammates or classmates, but from parents and relatives.

As such, our teams have made it through the season, though in some matches, our squads have been greatly diminished, not by infection, but by a mandated 14-day quarantine.

As I understand it, not all schools adhere to such a quarantine, which, perhaps, has tipped the proverbial playing field in their favor.

The reasoning behind the 14-day quarantine is if a person has come close to someone who has the virus and doesn’t get it within 14 days then they likely don’t have it, since the virus typically shows up within two weeks.

Fair enough.

But there’s another way to show if a person is infected, or not: Testing.

It would seem to me that if a student is tested immediately after exposure and then tested again a few days later, they also should not be carrying the virus.

The incubation rate, on average, is 4 to 5 days and about 97 percent are sick by 11.5 days, the Center for Disease Control states.

I am not suggesting the school pay for testing, but if parents have their students tested regularly after exposure and the tests come back negative, then a student should be able to play sports or engage in other activities within a reasonable amount of time.

It would be a viable alternative, in my view, to a carte blanche 14-day quarantine and would still ensure the safety of the student body.

Let me make one thing clear: I do not mean to diminish the threat of the virus. My sister contracted it and ended up in the emergency room, twice. I was recently talking to a friend who says her husband may have heart damage from the virus.

But a rigorous testing program for students who may have been exposed could ensure the continuance of our school sports throughout the winter and spring, without the loss of key competitors.

My hope is that school officials at least consider it such a measure.