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Multiple high school wrestling tournaments become COVID-19 super spreader events

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High school wrestling tournaments are causing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Two high school wrestling tournaments in Florida have been deemed as COVID-19 super spreaders. The CDC has released an in-depth report that links at least 79 cases and one death to the tournaments that happened in Polk Country, Florida.

According to the report, 10 high schools from three counties participated on the two wrestling tournaments on December 5 and 6. 130 wrestlers, coaches and referees attended. After tracing, an additional 446 people were determined to have “close contact.”

There were at least 79 confirmed cases, but the real total could be much higher as only a small portion had been tested. Only 54 out of the 130 attendees were tested, and 38 (70.4%) of them had a positive result. Only 95 of the 446 identified to have close contact were tested, and 41 (43.2%) tested positive.

One death was also reported, an adult of over 50-years-old that didn’t attend the tournament.

Nine of the 10 participating schools were investigated, and every school had a positive result. The report also cites that an estimated 1700 in-person school days were lost as a result of this outbreak.

Apart from the super-spreader event in Florida, a separate outbreak was also attributed to a recent high school wrestling tournament held in Louisiana. This was also a much larger event.

400 wrestlers were said to have competed in the two-day event on January 15 and 16, with a total of 1400 people attending. This was technically still under the states’ 25% threshold for venue occupancy, but as seen on the clip above, social distancing wasn’t observed, and mask wearing was inconsistent at best.

In-depth reports and tracing haven’t been completed as it’s still in the early stages, but “more than 20” attendees have already been confirmed to be positive. This has led to the Louisiana Department of Health to issue a statement asking anyone who attended the wrestling tournament to “consider themselves exposed to COVID-19” and immediately get tested.

Despite this, Louisiana High School Athletic Association executive director Eddie Bonine said that there are no plans to cancel future wrestling events, or implement additional safety and prevention measures.

“The protocols, recommendations and guidelines this association has in place, if adhered to, will keep any and all participants and spectators safe,” Bonine told CNN.

Wrestling tournaments in the state still pushed through as scheduled after this.

These situations aren’t that uncommon with various wrestling tournaments still happening around the US. Another wrestling tournament in Illinois was also previously investigated for possibly violating COVID-19 protocols last December. It reportedly had a cap of 651 wrestlers allowed to compete, with organizers telling attendees to keep a low profile and “avoid posting to social media” about it until days after the event.

The USA still by far has the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, more than doubling any other country on both categories. In January 28 alone, 3908 people have died due to the coronavirus, and there were over 162,000 new cases. The day before that had 4256 deaths.