New England ice rinks shut down after coronavirus case clusters emerge linked to hockey

Health officials are concerned that indoor ice hockey could result in the spread of coronavirus this winter in several New England states, according to The Washington Post.

Massachusetts ordered all indoor ice rinks and skating facilities to close on Thursday, citing the 108 probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found to be linked to hockey games and their practices, according to a press release.

“This pause will allow for the development of stronger COVID-19 protocols to further protect players, families, coaches, arena staff and other participants, as well as communities surrounding hockey rinks,” the release stated.

New Hampshire made a similar move earlier in October. Health officials identified nearly 158 cases connected to hockey over a two-month period within the state, according to a press briefing held by Gov. Chris Sununu (R).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a study in October that revealed that 14 out of 22 Florida hockey players suffered COVID-19 symptoms following a game at an indoor arena in June. 

“The indoor space and close contact between players during a hockey game increase infection risk for players and creates potential for a superspreader event, especially with ongoing community COVID-19 transmission,” according to the study.

Youth hockey games in Maine were canceled after one referee contracted the virus and potentially exposed nearly 400 people over the course of one weekend, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) issued a ban this month to keep rinks from taking new reservations for two weeks and will potentially add more restrictions, according to a news release.

Other states across the U.S. are preparing to brace for the winter amid spikes in coronavirus cases. The country has seen a total of 71,671 new cases and 865 deaths since Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Rocky Mountain States Emerge as New Covid-19 Hotspot

In mid-July, Montana was far from the fast-moving Covid-19 outbreaks that were overwhelming other states, reporting about 150 new cases a day. It is now a national hot spot.

The coronavirus is triggering more than 900 cases a day in Montana, health officials say, driven in large part by people fed up with face masks, as well as a resurgence of weddings, parties and other social gatherings. The state, which has one of the highest rates of infection in the U.S., has surpassed 25,000 cases and 275 deaths.

“I think a lot of it is people got tired of not having their regular life,” said John Felton, the health officer in Yellowstone County, where officials say the number of hospital patients requiring intensive care now exceeds the county’s 41 ICU beds.

Montana and other Rocky Mountain states are the latest region to get swept up by a surge in Covid-19 cases, which are nearing or at peak levels in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. New patients have left hospital beds in short supply, and state officials have renewed efforts to slow the spread.

So far, deaths from Covid-19 haven’t risen significantly across the region, but the wave of cases likely foreshadows an uptick similar to other outbreaks across the U.S., public-health officials said.

From September to October, there has been a big rise in new Covid-19 cases in several states, as well as a rise in hospitalizations resulting from the virus.

New cases vs. hospitalizations per 100,000

Note: Values are an average of the entire month.
Source: COVID Tracking
Project

In New Mexico, where new cases have shot up to more than 800 a day from 108 on Sept. 1, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said Tuesday that restaurants, bars and other businesses where people gather would have to close for two weeks if four or more of their workers test positive over 14 days.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, has directed the National Guard to help with contact tracing. New daily Covid-19 cases on Wednesday grew to 322 from 24 on Sept. 1.

More than 600 Idaho teachers called in sick Monday and Tuesday in the West Ada School District over what they say are unsafe working conditions, citing little room for social distancing in classrooms and some students ignoring mask-wearing rules in the Boise-area district. Over the past month, daily cases in Idaho have reached more than 900 a day from about 200.

“At the end of the day, we are just screaming the conditions they are having to work in are intolerable,” said Eric Thies, president of the West Ada Education Association, a teachers union.

A high school in Idaho Falls. Hundreds of Idaho teachers in another school district called in sick this week to protest what they say are unsafe working conditions.



Photo:

JOHN ROARK/Associated Press

In Utah, where new cases rose from 300 a day at the start of September to more than 1,300, a hospital in Salt Lake City

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