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The Updated Orientation Urges Children To Use Facial Masks While Participating In Most Juvenile Sports

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued an updated guidance Friday, encouraging children and teens to wear face masks when participating in most youth sports.

“Cloth face coverings have been shown to decrease transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2; therefore the AAP encourages that athletes wear them at all times for group training, competition, and on the sidelines,” the organization wrote.

The AAP had previously recommended that face masks be worn only by athletes on the sidelines as well as “during less vigorous activity.”

Despite the latest guidance, the AAP noted that children and teens who participate in such activities as competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming and diving should not wear face masks—as they could accidentally impair vision and pose as a choking hazard.

For water sports, the updated guidance stated that “a wet cloth face covering may be more difficult to breathe through.”

While encouraging the use of face coverings while participating in youth sports, the guidance noted that wearing the masks on the sidelines and during training, as well as practicing social distancing measures, should continue to stay in place.

For sale masks are seen displayed on a clothesline in the front yard of a house in Los Angeles on July 20, 2020.
Chris Delmas/Getty

Dr. Susannah Briskin, author of the guidance and a pediatric sports medicine specialist, stated: “Research shows that we can significantly lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission with cloth masks that completely cover the nose and mouth and that are fitted on the sides with no gaps.”

According to the AAP, there are approximately, 35 to 45 million children and teens between the ages of 6 and 18 who participate in some form of youth sports, and issuing this updated guidance can help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In an email sent to Newsweek, Briskin further said: “This guidance is designed for Pediatricians to provide their patients with the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“That being said – I feel strongly that all school, youth sports organizations, and facilities that host youth sports should read the latest guidance and implement the ‘strong recommendation’ for use of a cloth face covering for indoor sports,” Briskin said.

Briskin explained that the goal of mask use in sports is to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

“I think it is important to stress – this is a normal cloth face covering like the one all our kids wear to school,” Briskin told Newsweek. “Individuals may take a few sessions of exercise experimenting with different face coverings to feel comfortable in a particular one. This is no different than when we all started wearing masks out in public. It takes some getting used to. But people can exercise comfortably in a cloth face covering and potentially impact the spread of COVID.”

The updated guidance comes as cases of the novel virus have continued to surge throughout the U.S.

Data from the AAP shows that as of November 26, at least 1,337,217 children have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which accounted for roughly 12 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The data also shows at least 153,608 new child cases were reported compared to the previous week, ending on November 19.

During a two-week span from November 11 to November 26, data from AAP shows a 29 percent increase in child COVID-19 cases.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 14.2 million cases of the novel coronavirus across the U.S., as well as at least 277,412 deaths.

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