Post-school physical education classes at a pre-pandemic YMCA. Courtesy of YMCA of San Diego County
An attorney who helped win an injunction that allowed high school and youth sports to resume in San Diego County amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Sunday that his law firm will file similar lawsuits in other California counties this week .
“We’ll be filing similar lawsuits in Los Angeles, Orange, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino and other countries in the coming week to ensure that all teenagers have the same right to exercise – indoors and outdoors – like Professional athletes, “said Stephen Grebing from the company Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie in SanDiego.
On Friday – hours after the state revised its guidelines to allow certain athletic activities in counties with relatively low rates of new COVID-19 cases – San Diego Supreme Court Justice Earl H. Maas III agreed with plaintiffs in his written decision that the young athletes are not at a higher risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 than their professional or collegial colleagues.
Maas referred briefly to the state’s new guidelines, but wrote that “no competent evidence has been presented to the court on this matter,” and therefore declined to “foresee what the (state) can” do “in the coming week.”
Grebing called the verdict “an important victory beyond Governor Newsom’s announcement that only youth sports will be allowed outdoors from next week.”
He said it would be difficult for Newsom to appeal as the state failed to provide medical evidence of COVID-19 threats to adolescents and an appeal can only contest the original facts.
The new standard of the state enables the resumption of the “outdoor high-contact sport” in counties that achieve an adjusted daily average of 14 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. San Diego County currently has a rate of 22.2 cases per 100,000 population.
However, through the lawsuit of two San Diego area high school athletes, Maas issued an injunction that allowed high school and youth sports to resume sport in San Diego County “as long as the (y) have the same or similar COVID -19 follow protocols for competition in professional and / or university sports within the district. “
Maas heard arguments from lawyers representing the state, the county and the two student athletes on Friday afternoon. He wrote that he failed to be convinced by state and county arguments that professional and college teams were less at risk of spreading the virus because they were far fewer pro and college teams.
“The game is the same, the risk of spreading is similar, the youngsters are already practicing and with school closings or restrictions on attendance, the youngsters are isolated,” wrote Maas.
Another hearing is slated for early next month over an injunction on the case filed on behalf of Nicholas Gardinera, senior at Scripps Ranch High School and Cameron Woolsey, senior at Mission Hills High School.
Also, as per state guidelines, resumption of football, rugby, and water polo requires weekly COVID-19 tests from players 13 and older and coaches. Test results will be made available within 24 hours of a competition. Newsom said the state would pay for the necessary tests.
The guidelines apply to all forms of organized youth sport, including school and community programs, as well as private clubs and leagues.
Newsom said the combination of school closings and youth inability to play sports had both physical and psychological effects on health, “in profound and significant, and in many cases, harmful ways.” He said the downward trends in COVID cases in California had pushed the state to push the resumption of youth sports.
“We are now confident that we can get the youth sport in the US state of California going again and the competition in the US state of California, as always with restrictions,” he said. “None of us are naive. … Despite these very encouraging trends, we still have to be careful until we reach herd immunity. “