MISSOULA — Montana high schools will play football in the fall despite state health officials’ concerns.
Health officials from the state’s seven biggest counties had previously asked Montana High School Association officials to consider moving football to the spring. Four superintendents also asked the association to consider postponing football until the spring.
The MHSA decided not to hold a vote for it at a board meeting earlier this month.
Missoula City-County Health Officer Ellen Leahy said the MHSA did not consult with public health officials prior to their announcement to play ball come fall.
MHSA executive director Mark Beckman said the board deliberated at length whether to postpone the football season, the Missoulian reported.
State public health officials wanted to postpone fall sports until the spring in order to mitigate spread of the coronavirus, which has affected the cities that house some of Montana’s most prominent high school football teams.
As of Wednesday, Yellowstone County has reported 1,864 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Gallatin County has reported 1,089 confirmed cases, Flathead County has reported 539 confirmed cases and Missoula County has reported 417 confirmed cases.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.