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Officials Say Private Youth Sports Leagues Are Bumping Up COVID-19 Rates On South Shore

BOSTON (CBS) - Youth hockey is now taking a hit from COVID-19, especially in communities along the South Shore of Massachusetts.

"A kid that we were playing against had it, so we had to…take a break from hockey, which was fine because we want everyone to stay safe," said 15-year-old Joe Hennessey, who plays for a team in a private league in Hingham. It's one of several towns south of Boston that just moved into the high-risk red zone on the state's color-coded map of virus rates.

RELATED: New Hampshire Pausing All Indoor Hockey

Joe and his mom are hoping it won't get worse. "There's a mental aspect that we all have to look at too, where we can't just keep our kids at home 100 percent of the time," said Lisa Hennessey.

"The Hingham Health Department has had to quarantine entire teams," said Hingham town administrator Tom Mayo at a virtual Board of Selectmen's meeting this week. "We are seeing a troubling increase in COVID-19 cases in privately run team sports, especially indoor sports like hockey, basketball, and indoor soccer."

Earlier this month in Rockland, which is also in the red zone, teams from seven area towns gathered for a hockey competition, leading to an outbreak among coaches and players.

These clusters are happening as the number of high-risk communities in Massachusetts has tripled over the last couple weeks, bringing the total to 63.

Experts say now is not the time to let up. "As things get colder were going to have to think smart," said Dr. Abraar Karan works at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Really think about things like ventilation, keeping windows open, minimizing crowds indoors, and really using our masks indoors."

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