Group sues state over athlete testing requirements

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – A high school sports advocacy group and some parents have sued Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, seeking to stop a new requirement that all teen athletes be regularly tested for the coronavirus.

The lawsuit filed in the state Court of Claims Thursday comes on the eve of the mandate’s effective date. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department announced the free, required rapid testing to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Let Them Play Michigan sued along with three parents of young athletes. Founder of the group Jayme McElvany told 6 news they’ve gone too far.

“So you’re telling me you don’t have to test people that go into an airplane, a bar, a casino, a restaurant, a school but for some reason you feel the need to force us parents to test our health children 1 to 3 times a week for them to walk outside and play a sport,” said McElvany.

The lawsuit alleges that a state order and related guidance on mandatory quarantines for athletes are “arbitrary and capricious.”

McElvany says the constant testing, and quarantining is hurting the dreams of student-athletes.

“I’m talking thousands of kids that lost on their games their districts their regionals, their life long dreams,” she said.

Before filing the lawsuit the group wrote a letter to Director Elizabeth Hartel questioning MDHHS’s authority to issue the guidance. Hartel told them they’re expected to follow the emergency order.

“MDHHS expects the interim guidance for the athletics to be followed as directed by the emergency order,” she wrote in a letter to the group.

McElvany says there are too many false positive tests.

“These healthy kids with no symptoms were getting false positives,” she said. “What we’re doing is simply not working, that these test are not meant to be used in the way that we’re using them.”

She suggests doing individual testing if a student-athlete was exposed, or has a family member that’s sick but the entire team should not be required.

Lawyer Jimmy Thomas represented four student athletes in another case. They were not able to participate in school or sports due to contact tracing. A judge ruled in their favor, allowing them to wrestle this weekend.

He says students are getting notices from school officials but those need to come from health officials to be legal.

“So you have a principal, under what authority is he using to tell you that you can’t come back to school or participate in sports, what is the authority for that,” said Thomas. “If somebody is going to put a rule of law on you, then you’re entitled to be put on notice of that rule of law, what it is that’s keeping you from being able to participate.”

State health officials, Ingham County Health Department and Henry Ford Health System all agree that one of the key factors in this recent surge is coming from young people who are playing sports.

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