Ex-State health chiefs says tourneys are trouble The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Ex-State health chiefs says tourneys are trouble

December 20th, 2020 Mesa Tribune Staff
Ex-State health chiefs says tourneys are trouble


It may be painful to the economy but the state’s former health director thinks allowing tournaments – particularly with out-of-state teams – is “grossly irresponsible.”

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, favors canceling tournaments in the wake of spiraling COVID-19 cases and dwindling hospital beds in Arizona.

He said the lion’s share of spread within the school system is connected to athletics.

“I’ve talked to Maricopa County Public Health, and they said the contact tracing is pointing directly at club sports,” Humble said.

Humble said even smaller tournaments should press pause in December through February to allow enough time for new vaccines to be administered to vulnerable populations and allow those people to build antibodies.

“If that were the case, then I’d say ‘yeah, it’s going to cause some spread in the community, but it’s not going to cause deaths and it’s not going to cause a hospital crisis,’” Humble said.

He added, “I’m not saying you have to wait forever, but geez, when it’s this close…”

Humble said that spread is not just due to children playing sports in close contact but that the behavior of parents and other spectators also deserves blame.

Under executive orders issued by Gov. Doug Ducey, events with crowds larger than 50 people are required to submit safety plans to cities, and the cities must publish those plans for the public.

But Humble said those plans are not worth much if there is not enforcement of mitigation measures like mask wearing and social distancing.

“So the organizers produce a document that they throw in front of the city staff and say, ‘this is what we’re going to do’, but then you go out there and the reality is they’re not following any of them and there’s no enforcement,” Humble said.

He said the relatively lax requirements imposed by Ducey’s office have given local governments cover to allow tournaments to continue.

“Elected officials take comfort, I think, in that when the blame comes to roost, people are going to point fingers at the governor, rightly, which gives council members a free pass to make bad decisions,” Humble said.

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