CDC warns of “superspreader” events after hockey game causes outbreak among players

With Americans about to spend more time indoors as the weather turns colder, health officials warned Friday that a recreational hockey game showed how indoor sports can be “superspreader” events for the coronavirus. One player in a game between two groups of men at an ice rink last June likely led to 14 other people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, three Florida officials wrote in an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 15 people who fell ill after the game in the Tampa Bay area, 13 tested positive for the coronavirus, and two weren’t tested. Cloth face masks weren’t used in either team’s locker room or during the game.

“The ice rink provides a venue that is likely well suited to COVID-19 transmission as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs, and persons are in close proximity to one another,” the officials with the Florida Department of Health wrote in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The officials noted that the eight players who didn’t feel sick may have still contracted the disease and were asymptomatic. Not all of the players were tested.

The hockey player who the officials believe infected the other 14 people started experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat and a headache the day after the game. An investigation by the state health department found that eight of his teammates, five players on the opposing team and an ice rink employee felt symptoms within a week after the game.

“The indoor space and close contact between players during a hockey game increase infection risk for players and create potential for a superspreader event,” the officials wrote.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, used the term “superspreader event” to describe the events surrounding President Trump’s announcement of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the Supreme Court. Even though the announcement ceremony was outside in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump and a number of his aides and supporters who were seen close together and not wearing masks tested positive days later.

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