HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he has no plans to change his position that school sports should be canceled until 2021.
Wolf’s administration issued a “strong recommendation” last week that scholastic and recreational youth sports be put off until January to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for school sports, is making the case that fall sports can proceed safely. The PIAA, which had intended the resumption of school sports until Wolf’s announcement cast doubt on the plan, has asked for a meeting with the governor or his staff to present options for sports.
Asked about the PIAA’s letter Thursday, Wolf said: “I’m not sure what they could say that would make me change my sense of what I believe is the right thing to do.”
“We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure we get our kids back to learning,” Wolf said at a news conference. “And I don’t see how transporting whatever level, age, population back and forth across county borders is going to help in the effort to mitigate this disease and get us back to learning. So let’s put that on pause.”
Wolf noted his recommendation isn’t binding.
The PIAA’s executive director, Robert Lombardi, has argued that school-sanctioned sports are in a better position than recreational leagues to ensure compliance with pandemic safety measures.
“Halting interscholastic athletics will not eliminate the risk, it will simply shift it to other venues that lack sufficient oversight,” he wrote in a letter to Wolf.
The PIAA plans to meet Aug. 21 to make a final decision.
In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania reported nearly 1,000 new virus cases and another 24 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to more than 122,000 Pennsylvanians infected and more than 7,400 dead.
Almost one-third of the new cases are from Philadelphia and Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh.
After spiking last month, the percentage of virus tests coming back positive over seven days in Pennsylvania has dropped from 6% in late July to 5% now, according to the COVID Tracking Project. It hit a low of 3.3% in June.
The state saw a seven-day average of about 800 new cases per day, down from almost 975 per day over seven days in late July.
The number of deaths has risen in August, to about 18 per day over the past week, after four months of declines.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.