(STATE-XXX = Wisconsin)

ABSTRACT

Objective: To describe the incidence of COVID-19 in STATE-XXX high school athletes, and to investigate the relationship of COVID-19 incidence with sport and face mask use.

Design: Retrospective survey.

Setting: High schools across STATE-XXX during September, 2020.

Participants: Athletic directors representing 30,074 high school athletes with and without SARS-CoV-2.

Independent Variables: COVID-19 rates among athletes, counties, and STATE-XXX, school instruction type (virtual vs in-person), sport type, face mask use.

Main Outcome Measurements: Reported athlete case rates compared to their county's general population. Associations between COVID-19 incidence and sport type and face mask use, adjusting for each school's county incidence using multivariable negative binomial regression models.

Results: COVID-19 incidence rates for 207 of 244 responding schools were 32.6 cases per 100,000 player-days. Reported case rates for athletes in each county were positively correlated with the county's general population case rates (β=1.14±0.20, r=0.60, p<0.001). One case (0.5%) was attributed to sport contact by the reporting schools. No difference was identified between team and individual sports (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.03 [95% CI=0.49–2.2], p=0.93) or between non-contact and contact sports (IRR=0.53 [0.23–1.3], p=0.14). Outdoor sports had a lower incidence rate than indoor sports, although this did not reach statistical significance (IRR=0.52 [0.26–1.1], p=0.07). There were no significant associations between COVID-19 incidence and face mask use during play for those sports with greater than 50 schools reporting on face mask use (p>0.05 for all).

Conclusions: Incidence of reported COVID-19 among high school athletes was related to county incidence and most cases were attributed to non-sport contact. A lower COVID-19 incidence in outdoor sports approached statistical significance. The lack of a significant benefit of face mask use may be due to relatively low rates of COVID-19 in STATE-XXX during September 2020. Further research is needed to better define COVID-19 transmission risk factors during adolescent sport participation.

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