LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said four parishes have reported having one school each with football players who have tested positive for coronavirus.
Citing privacy laws, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Bonine did not disclose the names of the parishes or schools involved. He did note that the group includes one parish located outside East Baton Rouge, one in north Louisiana, one in the Acadiana area and one located in southwest Louisiana. The LHSAA has more than 250 football schools.
“I’m treading on thin ice with HIPAA,” Bonine said. “I’ve been advised that all I can tell you is that it’s four parishes with one school each. They are all football players. We are in the loop as a courtesy. We do not oversee summer workouts. But if I am asked if there are cases, I can speak to it accurately.
“I do anticipate more cases because of the nature of the virus. But to have cases in four parishes out of 60 so far is encouraging. The regional epidemiologists in each area have been notified and they are handling all the testing and the (contact) tracing. My understanding is that in one case there was a family gathering and a student was around another athlete. Some other programs could be impacted as well.”
The LHSAA executive committee’s unanimous Wednesday vote to move forward with a June 8 summer practice start should ignite some excitement.
Bonine said he was told the schools involved shut down their football practices and that the parishes also shut down practices. He noted that the reports so far do not indicate a pattern.
“You don’t really see any pockets or a hot spot,” Bonine said. “Orleans and Jefferson were so hard hit when the coronavirus started here, but we have no reports of cases there. Of course, they are still in the first phase of reopening that area, which is probably a factor.
“The thing we’ve got to do now is be careful and not do anything in June or July that will jeopardize what we hope to do in the fall.”
The Advocate reached out to schools in Ascension, Livingston, West Baton Rouge and Iberville Parishes. None reported having a case at their school or others nearby.
One coach said his school “dodged a bullet,” with cases that ended with negative COVID-19 tests. Another school reported having a player who tested negative after learning that he had close relatives who had tested positive.
Plans are being made for the executive committee to meet in person for its annual summer meeting at the LHSAA office at 9 a.m. on June 24. The committee pushed that meeting back from early June in order to have an onsite meeting.
“Right now, it looks like the committee will meet in person next week,” Bonine said. “I’m sending some things out the committee now that addresses that very thing and some other items. We have set up the room accordingly, to account for social distancing.
“We’re going to stay within the state’s capacity rule by not bringing anybody in from outside, other than the five schools coming in one at a time for appeals of fines. There will be no media allowed. We’ll have a full day planned as we prepare for what we need to do in July and August so we can be ready for what potentially happens in September.”