New round of COVID-19 testing required at USATF Junior Olympics after spike in Duval County cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new round of COVID-19 testing is required for all coaches and athletes at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Championships.

There was already a mandatory round of testing done more than a week ago.

All 6,000+ athletes had already submitted their negative test results by July 19. But now, they and their coaches will all have to be tested again as a result of rising COVID-19 cases in Duval County.

A chart from the FL Department of Health shows an upward trend. There were more than 45,584 new cases the week of July 9.

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The following week, there more than 73,199 new cases.

”That’s gonna be a big deal because now we have to get here extra early, way earlier than expected,” said Coach Jessica Cunningham-Grant with Elite Skills Development Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. Coach Jessica is here with her daughter Melissa Cunningham, who is also an athlete on her team.

She was supposed to compete at 8 a.m. sharp, but that was delayed.

”I feel a little bit frustrated but I know that during the race, I won’t be frustrated because I will be having fun,” Melissa said.

It’s already taken a long time to prepare for this moment.

”Weeks and months,” Melissa described. ”We put a word out to the whole team, ‘Hey got everyone tested by seven days prior to the meet,’ which everybody did,” Coach Jessica added.

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Athletes and coaches will receive new wristbands to indicate they got tested. The meet director, Angela Harris, tells Action News Jax event organizers are making sure everyone is safe.

Action News Jax reached out USATF event organizers to find out if this new round of testing will impact event times moving forward, and how the process will work. We are still waiting to hear back.

Meanwhile, Coach Jessica is making sure her athletes are focused. ”Just let them know that y’all still got this,” she said, when describing what she’s saying to her team. Don’t be discouraged, you know, you’re making friends, have fun!”