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AIA releases guidelines for fall sports, calls for vaccinations

In this September 2020 file photo, players for the Mingus football team warm up. The Arizona Interscholastic Association issued recommended guidelines Monday, July 26, 2021, for returning to athletic activity this school year, including a call for those involved in athletics to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (Independent file photo)

In this September 2020 file photo, players for the Mingus football team warm up. The Arizona Interscholastic Association issued recommended guidelines Monday, July 26, 2021, for returning to athletic activity this school year, including a call for those involved in athletics to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (Independent file photo)

COTTONWOOD — The Arizona Interscholastic Association issued recommended guidelines Monday, July 26, for returning to athletic activity this school year, including a call for those involved in athletics to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The AIA strongly recommends that all members of the athletic community who are able to receive COVID-19 vaccine are vaccinated,” the AIA states within the guidelines. “Fully vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to unvaccinated people, from being infected with SARS-CoV-2, or having severe infection with SARS-CoV-2.”

Yavapai County Community Health Services reported 174 COVID-19 cases and one death this past weekend, with the Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood taking care of nine new patients.

The AIA states that when it comes to high school athletics in the state of Arizona, full vaccinated people can:

• Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing at all team activities except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, or school district laws, rules and regulations.

• Resume competition schedules that require travel outside of their local community without testing before or after travel.

• Resume domestic travel without testing upon return or having to self-quarantine after arriving back.

• Refrain from testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

The AIA also issued a few guiding principles for fully vaccinated people involved with Arizona high school athletics:

• Indoor and outdoor activities pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people.

• Fully vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to unvaccinated people.

• Fully vaccinated people should still get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

• Fully vaccinated people should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

• Fully vaccinated people should not visit private or public settings if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

• Fully vaccinated people should continue to follow any applicable federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines for vaccinated people July 16, which many of the aforementioned list mentions.

The CDC states that fully vaccinated people are defined as those who are at least two weeks from their second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or at least two weeks from a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). There is currently no post-vaccination time limit for fully vaccinated status.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available for all people ages 12 and older.

“There are now very effective vaccines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the severity of the illness. Vaccination is the single most effective measure at this time to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” the AIA states in its guideline sheet.

NEW STRAIN

YCCHS reported Monday that the “delta variant” appears to be the “dominant strain” of the COVID-19 virus in Arizona.

“What that means for Arizonans who aren't vaccinated or don't have immunity to COVID-19 is that they are at higher risk of contracting the virus that causes it,” YCCHS spokesperson Terri Farneti said in a news release Monday. “Early evidence is suggesting that people infected with the delta variant may carry 1,000 times more virus than the original virus.”

While rare, a small percentage of fully vaccinated people can get COVID-19 if exposed to the virus, but they're much less likely to become sick, according to the CDC.

“It's very rare for someone who's fully vaccinated to experience severe symptoms from COVID-19. People who have received both doses of the vaccine are less likely to be hospitalized or die than those who haven't been vaccinated,” the CDC stated in a news release. “Vaccinated people typically see symptoms like a runny nose, which they mistake as a common cold.”

The Arizona Department of Health reported that only 11% of COVID-19 cases are among the vaccinated as of last week.

Follow Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter and Facebook at @52MediaWorks. Email him at bbergner@verdenews.com, or call 928-634-2241, ext. 6033.

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