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North Country baseball, soccer leagues postpone games due to COVID concerns

CVBL, U-18 soccer halts play for one week following large July 17 gathering

PLATTSBURGH — The Champlain Valley Baseball League has postponed its slate of games from this past Sunday until at least Aug. 2 due to COVID-19 concerns traced to a party held in Altona, Friday, July 17.

According to information obtained by league officials and posted to the CVBL’s Facebook page, multiple players from multiple teams were in attendance at the large social gathering that showcased more than 200 people.

GUESTS TESTED POSITIVE

Five attendees of the party, which was held on Memory Lane Way in Altona in the northern portion of Clinton County, have since tested positive for COVID-19, according to the County Health Department.

At this time, there is no knowledge of any players within the CVBL who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The postponements are precautionary and intended to allow for proper contact tracing and health protocol initiatives to take place.

CVBL PLAYERS ATTENDED

At least 12 members of one squad within the eight-team men’s recreational baseball league attended the party, according to information obtained by the Press-Republican from the CVBL.

The Adirondack Lightning U20 team, which plays its home games in Lake Placid, is one of the teams in the league.

The enormity of the situation stems from the chain effect this one CVBL team has created.

That team, whose name was not told to the Press-Republican, played three other local teams over the course of the past week, and those three teams played a combination of an additional six squads.

“These young adults made a serious mistake,” CVBL Commissioner Randy Lozier said when speaking to the Press-Republican in regard to the Altona party.

“Due to the magnitude of the amount of people at this event, the Clinton County Health Department will need time to sort it out. We also want to ensure the safety of all participants in our league.”

Four teams within the league had at least one person at the party, according to participants’ statements obtained by the CVBL.

HEALTH PROTOCOLS

The earliest restart date for the CVBL is tentatively slated for Sunday, Aug. 2.

Games postponed, Lozier said, will be added to the end of the league schedule at this time.

“After communicating with the Clinton County Health Department, they believe our plan of action is correct, and we will reevaluate in the coming days on opening back up,” Lozier said.

The CVBL began its season earlier this month, coinciding with New York state’s reopening plan for adult and youth sports, which allowed baseball games to be played starting July 6.

Prior to the league beginning its season, a health and safety plan was established to combat COVID-19 concerns.

CASES NOT LINKED TO GAMES

At this time, there is zero indication that COVID-19 was spread at any sporting event hosted by the member CVBL teams. The postponements are solely linked to health concerns from the Altona party.

“This has nothing to do directly with sports,” Lozier said. “Sports are not the culprit here.

“It just so happens that people that did everything they were supposed to do and followed the guidelines are now receiving the consequences and poor choices of others.”

Soccer Players also attended party in Altona

The North Country U-18 Summer Soccer League for boys and girls has postponed play for a week due to COVID-19 concerns.

The decision was made Sunday after league officials learned that some of its players attended a large party in Altona, Friday, July 17, which has now seen five guests test positive for COVID-19.

DECISION MAKING

At this time, there is no indication that COVID-19 was spread through the course of league play, officials say.

The postponement notice is strictly precautionary due to concern linked to the Altona party that featured more than 200 people, according to information obtained by organizers of the league.

“Due to the large event that happened in Altona, we are giving the Clinton County Health Department time to go through all necessary steps that need to be taken in terms of contact tracing, phone calls and appropriate notifications,” league official Randy Lozier said.

INFORMED

The league, which features five boys teams and eight girls teams, has informed the Clinton County Health Department that some of its players attended the large social gathering.

Play for both leagues began Monday, July 20, which was three days after the Altona party was held.

The Clinton County Health Department did not release information pertaining to positive COVID-19 cases traced to the Altona gathering until Friday, July 24.

Initially, there were three positive cases linked to the party, and Clinton County Legislature Chairman Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy) confirmed Sunday that two more had tested positive.

“In the end, this is a lesson to a lot of people, and especially young people, that some poor decisions can have a massive impact upon a large amount of people,” league official Rob McAuliffe said.

“It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a lesson that can be learned from.”

COACHES BRIEFED

McAuliffe, Lozier and Tim Mulligan, who is also a league official, led a Zoom call with the league’s coaches Sunday morning and informed them of the reasoning behind the postponement.

The league has relied heavily on information obtained by the Clinton County Health Department.

“(The meeting) was informational and letting people know that due to this big gathering, the amount of people who may have been at it is quite large,” McAuliffe said.

“There were so many people. It’s just too difficult at this time for us within the league to know who was there, so this is the safest course of action we can take as the Health Department looks at the situation.”

RESTART DATE

Tentatively, both the boys and girls leagues plan to resume play Aug. 2.

“As of right now, (the Health Department feels) comfortable with us restarting in a week,” McAuliffe said. “That could change. We are going to remain with the Department of Health, and we will certainly be in touch with them before we restart.

“If they give us some other guidance, we will make decisions based off what they say.”

While disappointed, coaches were understanding of the situation at hand, Lozier said, and value the health and safety of the players more than anything else.

TESTING

The league encourages anyone who attended the Altona party or came in contact with COVID-19 to contact the Clinton County Health Department at 518-565-4850 or 518-565-3270.

Meetings between league officials and coaches reinforced that all involved want to give young athletes the chance to play soccer but stressed a safe environment is needed to do so.

If allowed to resume, games for the boys and girls leagues will run through the month of August.

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