This week on the Minnesota Native News health report, safety tips for student-athletes itching to get back on the playing field. Reporter Dalton Walker explains in this week’s stories.
September typically means the new school year has finally arrived for most students in Minnesota. School in session also means organized sports opportunities are back as well.
Many questions remain regarding student safety in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in physical contact sports. Fall sports like football and volleyball started practice in mid-August.
The good news is that Minnesota teenagers are getting the vaccine.
State Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm provided an update recently on the number of eligible students getting vaccinated.
“But we do continue to get some positive news on the vaccination front. Seventy percent of all Minnestans 12 and older now have had at least one dose. That’s just incredibly important as school is starting out but we also want to continue to get that rate up even higher,” said Malcolm.
COVID-19 data shows that youth rarely get seriously ill when contacting the coronavirus, but it can happen. Still, there are a lot of unknowns yet with potential long-term health effects.
The best defense against COVID-19 for student-athletes is the vaccine.
However, not all students are eligible for the vaccine, at least not yet.
The latest state recommendations say face coverings and social distancing of at least six feet where possible can help. As does playing outdoors and avoiding crowds.
The state recommends unvaccinated athletes participating in team sports to get tested for COVID-19 bi-weekly.
For additional recommendations, visit the state health department website. Rules or recommendations can vary on location. Be sure to check with your local sports program for the latest information.
In other news.
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is extending its mask mandate through the end of the year.
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin made the announcement in a recent update to tribal citizens via her YouTube channel. This summer, the tribe decided to enforce masks again in tribal buildings due to the delta variant and an uptick in positive cases in the area.
“Mask must be worn in all Mille Lacs Band-owned buildings by all employees and guest. The commissioner’s order goes into effect Sept. 1 and will be effective through Dec. 31, 2021,” said Benjamin.
Other Minnesota tribes have made similar mandates but Mille Lacs may be the first to reveal a long-term mask plan.
Yet more data on why you should get the shot. A new CDC study shows how dangerous the virus is for those unvaccinated.
The study revealed that unvaccinated people aged 18 and older are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19. This is especially important as more hospital beds fill up.
Health officials urge people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and loved ones.
For Minnesota Native News health report, I’m Dalton Walker.