On Friday, Jan. 21, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Governor JB Pritzker announced that all high school sports will be played this year in regions that are in ‘Phase 4’. Just one week after Chicago Sun-Times sports editor Michael O’Brien stated “There won’t be high school basketball in Illinois this year,” adding, “Football is hanging on by a thread,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker threw all sports fans a curveball, announcing a plan to let the kids play.
However, in order for moderate and higher-risk sports to return to full competition, a region must meet the criteria to move into Phase 4 of Illinois’ COVID-19 guidelines, one step away from Tier 1, where Cook County was placed on Saturday.In order to move into Phase 4, Cook County’s test positivity rate must drop below 6.5 percent, and at least 20 percent of ICU beds must remain open. According to CovidActNow, a nonprofit founded in March to track the Coronavirus’ spread, the test positivity rate in Cook County is 8.4/100 as of Jan. 23. In order to meet the threshold of 6.5/100 positives, the positivity rate must drop by nearly 23%.
While the positivity rate drop seems like a tall task, the number of available beds in ICU’s across Cook County sits at 32 percent, which indicates that if the positivity rate does drastically dip and stays below the mark for three consecutive days, Cook County would move into Phase 4.
Below are the high-risk sports. In Tier 1, high-risk sports are limited to practice and intrasquad scrimmages, meaning they cannot compete or practice against other teams. In Phase 4, high-risk sports CAN play games against other teams in their conference.
Below are the moderate-risk sports. In Tier 1, moderate-risk sports CAN play games against other teams in their conference. In Phase 4, moderate-risk sports that are played outside can play a full season(out-of-conference and out-of-state games on top of a state tournament). HOWEVER, moderate-risk INDOOR sports that are in Phase 4 are limited to the Tier 1 restrictions, even if their region is in Phase 4. This means that indoor moderate-risk sports are limited to conference play, regardless of their region’s status.
Below are the lower-risk sports. In Tier 1 AND in Phase 4, lower-risk sports canplay a full season (out-of-conference and out-of-state games on top of a state tournament). This means the only way that lower-risk sports don’t play a full season is if Cook County’s’ COVID-19 restriction downgrades to Tier 2.
Swim and Dive
By Eli Cohen
Note: The IHSA will have a meeting on Jan. 27 to discuss scheduling.