PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Health Department has issued a new policy against contact sports and says there is a significant threat of community spread linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at Temple University. Temple says it now has 127 positive cases among students, but testing is still underway and results on hundreds of tests are still pending.
Many of the Temple University students infected with COVID-19 live in off-campus housing, which poses a substantial threat of community spread, according to the Philadelphia Health Department, which is tracking a sudden spike in cases at the university.
“Overall, these numbers are concerning and the rate of rise is even more concerning. There clearly is an outbreak occurring among Temple students,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
The campus was only open for a week when coronavirus cases doubled, prompting the university to pause in-person classes and switch to all virtual.
The student infections are linked to housing and small social get-togethers.
The health commissioner is now recommending against all gatherings with this pointed warning to Temple students.
“You should assume that everyone around you is infected, stay in your room,” Farley said. “Otherwise, this outbreak could grow quickly and could threaten the rest of the campus and the rest of the city.”
The health department also issued a new policy prohibiting competition for high-risk youth and high school contact sports.
While teams cannot play, they can practice if social distancing precautions are followed.
“Such as tackle football, soccer, rugby and indoor basketball,” Dr. Farley said.
The city will allow competition for lower-risk sports like baseball, crew and track and field.
“There are exceptions for professional and collegiate teams if their safety protocols are specially approved by the health department,” Farley said.
Dr. Farley says except for Temple University sports.
Overall the case counts continue to decline, but safety precautions of masks and social distancing are still critically important.
“The virus has the potential to come back strong at any time,” Farley said.
Farley says retail surveillance indicates about 90% of people on the streets of Philadelphia are wearing masks and that the city is still on track to allow limited indoor dining and theaters to reopen on Sept. 8.