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Weekend softball tournament flouts guidelines

Sanitarian insists on mask wearing and social distancing

A softball tournament held in and around Morgantown over this past weekend did not always practice social distancing or enforce mask wearing.

More than 80 teams competed on fields around Morgantown, including White Park, Cheat Lake Fields, Granville Park, St. Francis Central Catholic School, Westover and the Appalachian Community Center in Smithfield, Pa., according to the tournament website.

Registered sanitarians with Monongalia County Health Department Environmental Health visited the fields on multiple days during the tournament, Public Information Officer Mary Wade Burnside said.

On a Sunday visit, a sanitarian noticed a lack of masks and social distancing, Burnside said.

“The sanitarian went to the event organizer, who stopped and ordered everyone to either put on a mask or observe social distancing, which then occurred,” Burnside said.

Friday, a sanitarian visited a park and found signs about wearing masks and social distancing had been put up as previously requested by the health department, Burnside said.

During the Friday games, masks were not being worn and the park staff was called, who then instructed the organizer to enforce those measures, she said.

It’s not clear at which fields these incidents occurred.

Joel Brown, who lives near White Park, said while he was on a walk around the neighborhood he only saw a pitcher wearing a mask. Other players and spectators were not wearing masks or social distancing, he said.

The tournament was separate from BOPARC’s own internal adult softball league, Executive Director Melissa Wiles said.

BOPARC had consulted with the MCHD “extensively” on all aspects of its operations and programming this season, including the softball tournament, which was approved by the health department.

“In addition to the MCHD on-site inspectors, BOPARC had three staff members working on-site, shared guidelines and expectations with the tournament coordination team prior to, and answered questions/provided support throughout the tournament,” Wiles said.

Going forward, BOPARC is working with the MCHD to determine what Gov. Jim Justice meant when he excluded “certain athletic activities” from the updated 25-person social gathering limit, Wiles said.

“As of now, all of our original COVID-19 guidelines for BOPARC Softball remain in place. In addition to those original guidelines, and in order to assist with efforts to combat the rise in COVID-19 cases in our community, BOPARC has asked team captains to limit the number of spectators and is advising that spectators must have face coverings,” Wiles said.

While Morgantown has adopted a city ordinance penalizing a lack of mask use in indoor spaces, there is still no state-level punishment for not doing so. Outdoor spaces also do not require the use of a mask.

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