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'The bars stayed open, but youth sports got closed' | Coalition pushes St. Louis County to allow games

Coaches feel the data doesn't support a shutdown of games

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Parents and coaches with the St. Louis County COVID-19 Youth Sports Coalition want restrictions to be lifted so their kids can play games again. The county has loosened the guidelines a bit, allowing 20 players to practice at a time. Still, games are off the table.

READ MORE: St. Louis County updates youth sports guidelines

Ben Ruck with the Ellisville Athletic Association told 5 On Your Side they don't feel the data supports those guidelines. Ruck said out of the 25,000 athletes in the organization, there have been 24 reported cases. He said 90% of those cases were in teens 15 and older. 

Ruck said he feels the kids are being punished unfairly.

"The bars stayed open, but youth sports got closed," Ruck said. "I have a real issue with that because I’m worried about the physical and mental well-being of all our children in the St. Louis County area. I’m not really worried about a bar being open," he explained.

The county's data as of Monday morning showed the highest number of cases is occurring in the group of people 20-29 years old. The 9 and younger age group has seen the lowest at 383.

Credit: St. Louis County Dept of Public Health

The county’s latest in-depth two-week breakdown of numbers showed the rate of new COVID-19 diagnoses is highest among the 20-29 age group (35 cases per 100,000 per day) and lowest among those 9 and younger (5.1 cases per 100,000 per day). However, the testing rates are below the target range for the two youngest age groups (0-9 and 10-19).

The prevalence of COVID-19 — or the positivity rate — among those tested in the county is highest in the 10-19 age group (10.6%) and 20-29 age group (11%), according to the county health department’s analysis. All other age groups are between 5-10%.

RELATED: Missouri reports 26 new COVID-19 deaths Monday, most since June

Ruck went on to say that many clubs are traveling outside of the county to play games where it’s allowed. He said he’d much rather see games played within the county limits so they have more control over the safety precautions taken.

One of the reasons St. Louis County banned games was to eliminate the congregating of parents and fans. Ruck said just as restaurants have guidelines for their outdoor dining, they too can enforce social distancing at games.

5 On Your Side reached out to St. Louis County and its health department for clarification on youth sports guidelines and have not heard back.

Ruck said the coalition has been meeting regularly with the health department to come up with some solutions for the youth sports. They are expected to meet again this week.

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