Doctors told Florida high schools to delay football season because of the coronavirus, but they’re playing anyway

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High school football players during the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, FL. Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • Florida’s high school athletics board overwhelmingly decided to disregard the advice of its medical professionals and start football season.
  • Not a single county in Florida meets the state’s medical advisory committee’s criteria for restarting high school sports.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ally of President Donald Trump, is pushing for public schools to fully reopen, despite outbreaks at reopened schools across the country.
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Florida isn’t letting its surge in coronavirus cases get in the way of its Friday night lights.

The sunshine state’s high school athletic board voted in an overwhelming majority Friday to let high school football teams start practicing on August 24, against the advice of its medical advisory committee, per the Associated Press.

Districts will be required to get their teams out on the field between September 4 and 18 if they want to compete for a spot in the playoffs but can play extended regular seasons if they choose to start later, according to the report. Doctors recommended they wait until at least September 28 to launch any of the fall sports, including swimming, girls volleyball, and cross country.

“Until this virus is given the respect it deserves to quiet down, introducing sports adds fuel to the fire,” said medical advisory committee head Dr. Jennifer Maynard said at the athletic board’s meeting on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has long called for his states’ schools to fully reopen in the fall, despite outcry from medical professionals and teachers who fear that doing so could escalate the coronavirus pandemic. Several schools that have already reopened quickly experienced outbreaks of COVID-19.

During an address on Wednesday, DeSantis compared planning for a return to in-person learning to the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

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Florida is currently home to one of the worst outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in the United States, averaging more deaths each day last week than any other state besides Texas, the Associated Press. reported.

Not a single county in Florida meets the criteria the athletic board’s medical advisors wrote to determine when it would be safe to play football – having a decline in cases and a test positivity rate under 5% for two weeks, per the Associated Press.