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Multiple COVID-19 Outbreaks Takedown High School Wrestling Programs

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Multiple COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to four separate high school wrestling tournaments held December 4. Per a Department of Health release, the current number of cases connected to the tournaments is estimated to be between 80 and 90.

“As of last night, we have been notified of nine schools that have had outbreaks of three or more cases in the wrestling programs,” said King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

The outbreaks include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. At least three cases have been identified as the omicron variant.

“In total, as of this moment, and we expect this to change, we’re aware of 82 cases that have been associated with wrestling and that includes wrestlers, coaches, and some family members and spectators across 20 schools,” Duchin said. “So we have confirmed outbreak threshold of three or more cases at nine schools, but we have about 20 others that have reported at least one case.”

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Auburn School District Director of Communication Vicki Alonzo confirmed the district has had multiple positive cases.  All ASD wrestling programs have been shut down until December 27th.

Auburn High School students and wrestling coach sit on bleachers for a group photo. Some wrestlers wear medals around their neck. 6 students wear masks.
 Auburn High School Trojans Wrestling | AHS Wrestling Facebook

The Dec. 4, 2021 impacted wrestling tournaments include:

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  • John Birbeck Invitational in Lacey, WA
  • Ed Arima Duals in Sumner, WA
  • Lady Jags Kickoff Tournament in Puyallup, WA
  • Yelm Girls Varsity in Yelm, WA
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Counties with high school(s) in attendance include Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom, and Yakima. A high school in Oregon also sent participants.

Anyone who attended these events in any capacity should monitor or be monitored for symptoms. The Department of Health additionally recommends attendees get tested for COVID-19. “Anyone with symptoms or who tests positive should stay home from work, school, childcare or social activities,” the Department of Health press release states.

At this time at least seven tournaments or other mat meets associated with these cases have been identified.

COVID-19 Prevention Measures

“Some of the things that our team has observed involves low compliance, in some cases,” Duchin said. ” These things included not wearing a mask “when not actively wrestling and low mask wearing by spectators in the in the bleachers. There was at least one report of a post tournament celebration among team members that didn’t have masks and wrestlers in some cases attending practice or competition while symptomatic.”

All spectators, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask while in attendance of any K-12 sporting events. This requirement is a part of State requirements for K-12 sports stating, “universal masking is required indoors at all times when not actively practicing or competing.”

The COVID-19 vaccine and booster has been approved for all individuals age 16 years and older. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 are also now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Find an appointment near you)

“A team of DOH epidemiologists, in collaboration with local health jurisdiction epidemiologists, is working on gathering more information about these events and the corresponding COVID-19 cases,” the Department of Health press release states. “This is a dynamic situation and evolving investigation, and we will share updates as we learn more.”

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