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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