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Mendoza keeping a close eye on COVID-19 cases as fall sports resume

Charles Molineaux
Updated: September 29, 2020 07:16 PM
Created: September 29, 2020 07:12 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza promised to keep a close eye on sports this fall as schools resume fall athletics and more coronavirus cases start adding up.

On Tuesday, the Penfield Central School District revealed the Monroe County Public Health Department had identified another one of its students with COVID-19 and promised families it was following the county’s rules and doing everything possible to keep students safe.

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“Fatigue is setting in,” Mendoza said. “We’ve seen examples of it throughout the summer and I can only imagine that, as the months go colder and we can no longer have the backyard gatherings and the outdoor restaurant patio dining that we will again have to reevaluate.” 

After months of quarantine and lockdown, Mendoza said many people are longing to get back into “normal” interactions and his office is keeping a close eye on favorite fall athletics.

Over the weekend, Penfield announced it was quarantining its basketball team because one player has been found to have COVID-19.

In cases like that, Mendoza told News10NBC on Tuesday it’s important to watch who’s in contact with whom.

“It’s so important that people look at the actual interactions in the sport,” he said. “We’ve said football is higher risk for example. But, when you look at the actual mechanics of how people interact, there’s certainly ways people can remain distant on the sidelines.“ 

On Monday, schools across the county were allowed to start low-risk sports like soccer, field hockey and tennis. Mendoza says part of coming out of coronavirus lockdown will have to be trusting students, athletes, and their families to follow the rules, help with contact tracing and not assume people will be dishonest at a time when reliable information becomes crucial.

“I said, ‘if we approach the year assuming that’s the case, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot,’” he warned. “We’ve got to approach this as if people do the right thing because it’s in everybody’s best interest at the end of the day.”

Mendoza says the process of contact tracing has been something for people across the county to get used to, and that school systems, have been in contact with him “hourly” providing helpful information, a process he says becomes more crucial into the fall season.  

“As the sports start to reconnect, we will be following very closely to see if there’s anything we can trace back to a particular activity,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, the same rules apply. It’s wearing your mask when you can, trying to keep distance when possible and paying attention to how long you’re in contact with other people.”


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