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Youth football and other high-contact outdoor sports will be permitted to resume in Orange County beginning Friday, bringing the county in line with recent guidelines released by the California Department of Health, officials said Tuesday.

The California Department of Public Health’s revised guidance on youth sports cleared the way for high-contact sports such as football, field hockey, rugby and water polo to resume Friday in counties that are in the purple and red tiers if the county has a COVID-19 case rate at or below 14 per 100,000 people.

Orange County met the benchmark Tuesday, said Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau.

The county’s adjusted case rate is 11.9 per 100,000 people, and the positivity rate is 5.4%, data show. Under previous guidelines, sports in which players are in close contact with one another could be played only if a county reached the far less restrictive orange tier with a positivity rate between 2% and 4.9%.

“This is very big news,” Chau told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “This will be something for the children to look forward to.”

Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties also met the state’s standard Tuesday with adjusted case rates of 12.3 per 100,000 and 9.4 per 100,000, respectively. Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties did not meet the threshold.

High school sports were paused in March when campuses shut down as COVID-19 began spreading across the state. In July, the CIF, the state’s governing body for high school sports, delayed the 2020-21 fall sports season as cases continued ticking up across California. After months of sitting on the sidelines, coaches, parents and athletes have rallied in front of schools and put pressure on state officials for the return of competitive sports.

“We are now prepared to enter another phase of this journey we have been on for almost an entire year,” Rob Wigod, commissioner of athletics for the CIF Southern Section, wrote in a statement last week. “From the very beginning, we have always tried to keep the focus on student-athletes, doing all we can to come through for them and be able to resume our education-based athletics programs.”

Under the state guidance, weekly testing will be required for coaches and football, rugby and water polo players who are at least 13 years old. The guidance also notes that competitions are permitted only between teams within the same county or from bordering counties where the sport is allowed.

Marina High School Athletic Director Michelle Spencer said last week that she’s ready to do whatever it takes to make sure student-athletes are back competing as soon as possible.

“We’re excited,” Spencer said. “We’re going to do everything we can to get every team possible in the pool or on the field. That’s our commitment, so we’ll figure out the testing. Whatever they want to throw at us, we’ve got this. We’ll figure it out.”

As the county begins allowing more activities to resume, health officials are also pushing forward with vaccine efforts despite supply hurdles that have hampered the rollout.

The county Tuesday opened its third large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site at the Anaheim Convention Center in an effort to increase the number of inoculations. Health officials have said opening more sites is key to achieving their goal of getting all residents vaccinated by July 4.

More than 500,000 doses had been administered in Orange County as of last week, according to county data.

The county was forced to close the Disneyland vaccination site indefinitely last week after severe winter weather across the country delayed vaccine shipments. The county received the doses it was expecting last week on Tuesday morning and should receive this week’s allocation Thursday. The Disneyland site is expected to reopen Wednesday, Chau said.

Turner writes for Times Community News.

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Tags: covid 19 pandemic coronavirus and pandemic the california department the california department the state’s high school sports high school sports in orange county student athletes health officials vaccination site positivity rate the disneyland the disneyland spencer said high contact youth sports

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Bristol dirt weekend to feature heat races, Friday practices

Katharine McPhee Gives Birth, Welcomes First Baby With David Foster Dow gains over 420 points to hit new all-time high after Powell testimony © Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol dirt weekend to feature heat races, Friday practices Bristol Motor Speedway will hold heat races Saturday and practices Friday as part of its NASCAR dirt-race weekend, the track announced Wednesday. On March 27, both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will conduct four, 15-lap heat races to determine the starting lineup for each main race. On March 26, both series will hit the track for practice sessions that fans can buy tickets to attend.

RELATED: Cup Series schedule | Buy tickets for Bristol

The Bush‘s Beans Qualifying heat races for Sunday‘s Food City Dirt Race in the Cup Series will be held that Saturday at 6, 6:15, 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. ET. The heat races for Saturday’s Pinty‘s Truck Race on Dirt for the Camping World Truck Series will be held at 4:30, 4:45, 5 and 5:15 p.m. ET. The Truck race is scheduled for later Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and a limited amount of tickets are still available.

NASCAR will announce more details on the format at a later date.

Friday‘s Bush’s Beans practice sessions will feature both series in action and a limited number of tickets available for $15 each in the socially distanced grandstand. The Cup Series cars will be on the track at 4:05 p.m. ET and 6:35 p.m. The Truck Series will take centerstage at 3:05 p.m. and 5:35 p.m.

Friday’s practices and Saturday’s qualifying heat races will all lead up to Sunday‘s running of the Food City Dirt Race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It‘ll mark the first time the Cup Series has run on dirt since September of 1970.

MORE: Photos of Bristol’s transformation to dirt


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