Advance Notice: Briefs

Judge rules against challenge to COVID-19 protocols for student athletes

By: - April 29, 2021 2:24 pm

Let Them Play Michigan, Inc. v Elizabeth Hertel | Screenshot

A state Court of Claims judge on Wednesday rejected a request to halt COVID-19 testing of Michigan school athletes and other steps ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

An injunction is not appropriate at this stage because the plaintiff, Let Them Play Michigan, and its allies are unlikely to win the case, said Judge Michael J. Kelly following a Tuesday hearing, which was carried out virtually.   

Let Them Play is a Michigan group that calls for an end to coronavirus restrictions against high school sports. It filed a lawsuit against the state in January when there was a ban on youth sports during the second wave of cases. That has since been lifted, but now the group objects to the mask and testing requirements.

The group maintains that DHHS orders should have gone through a rule-making process that involved the Michigan Legislature. However, Kelly said state law “plainly gives” authority to the health director to issue emergency orders in response to a pandemic.

Spring lacrosse and soccer players must wear masks at all times. Athletes in baseball, golf, softball, tennis and track must wear a mask when on the sideline but not when actively competing, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Let Them Play organizer Jayme McElvany has been at the center of controversy. After the Michigan Advance reported in January that McElvany posted COVID skepticism, debunked election fraud conspiracies and QAnon rhetoric on her social media, some of her posts had been removed by Facebook, according to her. McElvany also said that she was traveling to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, the day of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

That morning she posted: “Guys … it’s gonna be the most shocking day in American history today. Invite people to the group. Everyone needs to be ready for what’s about to be revealed. I will update you as soon as it happens. Many traitors on both sides. Please pray that all evil gets revealed. Pray pray pray.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.