Indoor sports like ice hockey are high risk for coronavirus — CDC

James Marshall
October 17, 2020

Indoor sports like ice hockey are high-risk activities for the spread of COVID-19, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The case was detailed in the CDC's October 16 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The game was played on an iceberg in Tampa on June 16, and the next day, a player, considered an index patient, experienced symptoms of Govt-19, including fever, cough, sore throat and headache.

Five days later, at least 14 other people at the indoor rink had either tested positive for the virus or showed symptoms: eight of the man's 11 teammates, five people on the opposing team, and one rink staff member - all 15 people later recovered from the virus.

Ice hockey involves intense physical exertion, along with heavy breathing during matches and frequent contact between players, the researchers noted in the report. Each team also shared separate locker rooms for 20 minutes before and after the 60-minute game, and no one wore a face mask to control the disease. Since Sunday, 21 states have hit their peak seven-day average of new cases since the pandemic began, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

More than one player may have been infected during the game, the researchers acknowledged, but they believe the index was the only source of transmission when the patient was asymptomatic.

An ice-rink, researchers asserted, poses particular pitfalls in the COVID era.

The updated CDC guidelines acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread through the air
COVID Scored Big at 'Superspreader' Hockey Game

"The ice rink provides a place that is potentially conducive to COVD-19 transmission, such as an indoor environment where there is deep breathing, and individuals are close to each other", the researchers noted. May turn into a super spreader event.

"Indoor space and close contact between players during a hockey game increases the risk of infection for players and creates the potential for a superspeeder event, especially with the current social COVID-19 transmission", the study concluded. Of the 158 cases, Chan said, 117 were linked to a separate outbreak and 41 were not related to a specific outbreak, but were linked to ice hockey. The nine players and four adults were associated with a summer camp that was held at Conway Arena in Nashua.

The state's epidemiologist, Dr. Benjamin Chan, said Thursday that in the last two months, 158 residents of 23 different ice hockey teams or organizations have been tested for Covid-19.

And in August, a teenage boy from MA who crossed state lines to play in an ice hockey tournament tested positive for COVID-19.

The teenager, who was born in 2006, competed with a NY team in an elite tournament in CT from July 31 to August 2, according to Chet Murch, general manager of The Rinks at Exeter in New Hampshire. At least 12 other players from NY have tested positive for the virus, the Globe reported at the time.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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