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WATCH: Why Dr. Khaldun believes it’s safe for indoor contact sports to return


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID-19 update today where she announced that indoor high school contact sports can return, including basketball, hockey and others.

But the governor largely relied on the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun to explain why.

Khaldun said the decision to bring back contact sports was made in part because of a steady decline in the state’s COVID-19 numbers.

“Michiganders are doing their part by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and socially distancing and because we continue to see our metrics trending in the right direction we can move forward with allowing contact sports practices and competetions with specific public health measures in place like masks and testing,” Khaldun said.

Khaldun said there are 159 cases per million people in the state, and the test-positivity rate is below 5 percent, which is the lowest since October.

Khaldun said as a former college athlete and a mother of three kids who play sports, she understands the importance of sports for kids mental health, but added that keeping kids in school is important too.

“We also know that one of the most important things that we can do right now is have our children be able to go to school in-person,” Khaldun said. “As we continue to reengage, it is critical that everyone adheres to public health measures.”

In addition, Khaldun warned of the new COVID-19 varriant B117, which more easily spreads from person to person. So far, they have identified 28 cases in Washtenaw and Wayne County.

“If this variant becomes more common as national experts predict it could, then we could see a rise in cases and more hospitalizations and deaths,” Khaldun said.

We have made great strides with the vaccine in Michigan, Khaldun said. Over 1 million doses have been adminsitered so far in the state and said they remain focused on equity and efficiency in their vaccination strategy.

There have been 563,893 cases and over 14,000 deaths from COVID-19 so far, Khaldun said.

Lastly, Khaldun spoke about the Super Bowl being this weekend and the need for doing things differently this year. She said don’t hold gatherings to watch the game, but if you do make sure it’s no more than two households.

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