Current case numbers leave winter sports in doubt

By: 
Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor, Statesman Examiner

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released another update on how it plans to commence high school sports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last Tuesday, with less than optimistic answers to those hoping to partake in traditional winter sports.

The WIAA Executive Board, in part with feedback from athletic directors, determined that 50% of schools in each region (by classification) must be eligible to resume play for a season to take place. A school’s eligibility for a given sport is based on the sports’ risk category and the number of cases in its county over the previous two weeks.

A low risk county has less than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days, moderate risk at between 25-to-75 cases per 100,000 and high risk at greater than 75 cases per 100,000.

All winter sports (wrestling, basketball and cheerleading) are considered high risk. While they can resume restricted practices in high, moderate and low risk counties, league games will only be allowed in low risk counties.

Under the new WIAA outline regions will give a preliminary update four weeks prior to the upcoming planned season. If a sport is below 50% of schools eligible to compete in any region, “staff will provide notice as to the adjusted season the sport would be planned to move.”

The preliminary update for Season 2 sports will be on Nov. 27. Then the decision to go forward or re-schedule seasons will be on Dec. 4.

As of press time on Monday, Spokane County has 2,836 new cases in the past two weeks, a rate of 542 per 100,000 residents.Stevens County has had 157 cases, a rate of about 343 per 100,000 residents—well into the high risk category. Pend Oreille County has had 40 cases, a rate of about 294 per 100,000 and Ferry County has had eight cases, a rate of about 105 per 100,000. At these projections, Ferry County would even need to reduce its case count to one per two week period to reach the low risk category.

The majority of District 7 counties are well into the high risk zone, meaning cases will need to drastically decline for 50% of schools to be eligible.

Time will tell if numbers decline in time for Season 3, traditional fall sports, to be played. Cross country remains the most probable as it is considered low risk and can have league contests in any risk category. The WIAA will examine potential adjustments at its Nov. 17 meeting.