FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley wants youth athletes back on the sidelines as virus cases climb to their highest numbers since July.

Referencing the close contact between athletes on school and recreational teams, as well as parents and families watching from bleachers, Judge Whitley said he believes the activities are a “big part” of the increased COVID-19 spread.

Whitley acknowledged he does not have the authority to shut down school or youth sports, which are covered under an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott.

Whitley later said even if he had authority he likely would not order a shutdown, but wished school districts, cities and youth organization would make the move on their own.

“This is not their life,” Whitley said. “This is something they should be playing to have fun. I think if you can put that on hold for six months or so then I think that can make a big difference.”

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley (CBS 11)

Whitley’s comments followed a briefing from Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja, who said the holiday season is “at risk” due to the virus spread.

“I think it’s time to stick with our individual family units, as much as possible,” Taneja said. “Try not to do anything that’s not absolutely necessary.”

Whitley said he expects an emergency order and mask order that expire at the end of November will be extended.

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