Iowa Falls-Alden's varsity baseball team's season has been suspended after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
IF-A Athletic Director Pat Norem said players and their parents were notified Thursday morning that the season will be suspended for the next 14 days. That means the varsity team will not be able to gather or practice until July 1. The first possible date the team could resume playing is July 6, which is scheduled to be a home contest versus Fort Dodge St. Edmond.
Norem said the player who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the team's practice on Tuesday. Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health and the Iowa High School Athletic Association were notified of the positive test. Norem said there’s no requirement that IF-A players or coaches be tested for COVID-19, but the school is mandating that players who were in contact with the positive student must quarantine themselves for 14 days. Coaches have been dividing players into smaller pods during practice sessions.
"Public health officials make the decision on if someone should be tested,” Norem said. “That's another decision we don't make. We recommend that people register for the Test Iowa site and go from there.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting that 49 Hardin County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, with 13 of them classified as having recovered. This week Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health reported one new case on Monday and two on Wednesday. Another three showed upon the state’s coronavirus website Thursday afternoon.
In the last two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in the county has more than doubled, from 20 on June 4, to 49 on June 18. In those two weeks, cases have been confirmed in employees at Scenic Living Communities, Casey’s General Store and Las Flores Mexican Restaurant, all located in Iowa Falls.
Asked if he was concerned that the softball team's season might also be disrupted, Norem responded that this is new territory for everyone.
"The reality is we have to be concerned with everybody, but this really does not have anything to do with our softball kids,” Norem said. “What concerns me is there is no way you would know anyone is sick. It's not as though our baseball player who tested positive is the only one walking around."
IF-A has played two games this summer, Monday at Clear Lake and Wednesday at Fort Dodge St. Edmond. The team's postseason is scheduled to begin July 17.
Norem said Thursday that he has already reached out to other schools to ask about continuing with junior varsity games, but no one had agreed to play. He said one of the coaches on IF-A's baseball staff was not at Tuesday's practice, and would be able to run JV practices.
Earlier this week, the South Hardin baseball team’s first home game was canceled when its opponent, Aplington-Parkersburg, canceled after learning that some of its players had been exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. Butler County Public Health advised those players to self-quarantine for 14 days from the initial contact date.
The Woodbine baseball team and the Central Lyon/Little Rock softball team have also suspended practice and play after players tested positive for the illness.
“I’m not surprised if that doesn’t happen maybe several times throughout the season,” South Hardin baseball coach Dick Shindelar said of the suspension. “I hope we get to play most of our games this season but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t.”