An outbreak of COVID-19 cases associated with a youth hockey tournament in Anchorage has prompted the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to delay the start of its hockey season and forced one peninsula-based youth hockey team to postpone all of its activities.
The Anchorage Health Department announced Friday they were investigating the circumstances around the 2020 Termination Dust Invitational — which took place from Oct. 2-4 at the Ben Boeke and Dempsey Anderson arenas in Anchorage — and had identified a “cluster of cases” associated with the tournament.
“Contact investigations indicate that the 2020 Termination Dust Invitational … was attended by more than 300 players, coaches and fans,” a Friday press release from the health department said. “Teams from Anchorage, Eagle River/Chugiak, Wasilla/Palmer, Kenai/Soldotna and Juneau participated in the tournament. Contact investigations indicate significant close contact in indoor spaces, including locker rooms, with inconsistent use of face coverings.”
The Anchorage Health Department is urging all attendees to get tested for COVID-19, while encouraging asymptomatic attendees to quarantine for 14 days and symptomatic attendees to isolate for 10 days in order to avoid further spread of the disease.
Matt Widaman, president of the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association, said Friday that one of the KPHA teams has stopped activities because of their attendance at the tournament. The Clarion asked if there was more than one KPHA team that attended the tournament, and if the team that has stopped activities is currently quarantining or getting tested for COVID-19, but Widaman did not provide an answer by press time.
Following the announcement from the Anchorage Health Department, KPBSD Superintendent John O’Brien said Friday that he was delaying the start of the district’s hockey season from Oct. 14 to Oct. 19.
Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services announced 174 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 232 cases Saturday.
DHSS also issued a press release on Friday with recommendations from Alaska doctors that all youth athletes wear masks while playing sports or competing, even during vigorous activity. The only exception mentioned is for swimmers, who can’t wear a mask while their faces are in the water but do need to wear one on the pool deck.
“Unless our face is underwater, I think we should all be wearing masks when we’re around people – except when we’re at home,” Dr. Bruce Chandler, chief medical officer with the Anchorage Health Department, said in the release.
“Masks slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, but also help to protect the people wearing them,” Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, said in the release. “COVID is new and we are still learning a lot about the long-term health impacts, even in young athletes. A mask can help protect their long-term health as well.”
Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org.