At Friday’s White House COVID-19 response team briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discussed an increase in coronavirus cases due to youth sports. Saying it’s not necessarily a result of transmissions in schools, she urged students, school staff and parents to follow CDC guidance for schools and to participate in testing programs.
– Well, those are National Statistics. We should recognize that these trends are magnified in some regions of the country, like in the upper Midwest. CDC is working closely with public health officials in this region to understand what is driving these cases and how we can intervene.
For example, in Michigan and Minnesota that are also increasing number of cases linked to B-117 variants in various settings. And in both of these states, there is concern about transmission in youth sports, both clubs sports, as well as sports affiliated in schools. Well, what is happening in Michigan and Minnesota is similar to what we are seeing across the country.
Increasing reports of cases associated with youth sports. I want to be clear, as cases increase in the community, we expect the cases identified in schools will also increase. This is not necessarily indicative of school based transmission.
If fully implemented, the CDC’S operational guidance for schools and community level prevention measures can reduce or prevent transmission in schools. And we have not yet seen evidence of significant transmission of COVID-19 within schools, when schools have fully implemented CDC’S mitigation guidelines. In addition to educator vaccination, which we spoke about on Wednesday, testing remains an important tool in our overall efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 including in our schools.
This week, CDC is awarding $10 billion through the American Rescue Plan to support COVID-19 testing in schools across the country. Being able to rapidly identify new cases among students will help us slow the spread of COVID-19 while we simultaneously work to expand equitable access to vaccines.
With this funding for testing, every state will have access to millions of dollars to set up screening programs, to add an additional layer of protection for schools, teachers, and students. This funding can be used to test teachers, staff, and students with any symptoms of COVID-19, those who may have been exposed to the virus, and to establish sustained screening programs across school systems. We recognize that establishing a testing program is a new venture for many schools.
That’s why CDC is committed to continue our work alongside state and local health departments by providing technical assistance and support to assist schools and states in standing up and implementing these programs. As these are rolled out, we strongly encourage parents, staff, and students to participate, to keep our children and our staff safe in school. These initiatives along with strict adherence to public health prevention precautions and getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help us turn the corner on this pandemic.