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Evidence is beginning to show that intense, indoor sports can contribute to COVID-19 transmission, per a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which cited an ice hockey game resulting in 14 infected individuals.
The index patient, or believed source of infection, had a fever, cough, sore throat and headache a day after playing in the June 16 game in Tampa Bay, Fla., per the study. Two days later, a nasal swab confirmed the infection, and shortly thereafter 13 other players and a staff member at the ice rink came down with symptoms as well.
Of the 15 total cases, 11 infections were confirmed via PCR testing and two had positive antigen tests, while two were not tested.
“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,” per the study.
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More infections cropped up on the index patient's team, which the CDC said may have been from more exposure in their separate locker room and sitting closely together on the bench.
Longer exposure with the infected player in the locker room, and sitting closely together on the bench, may explain the greater number of cases on that team, the CDC theorized. (iStock)
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The players flouted cloth face masks in the locker room and during the game but wore hockey-related protective face gear like plastic half-shields and metal cages, while still others wore no protective face gear, the health agency wrote.
The two on-ice referees managed to escape symptoms.
The CDC also took the plexiglass surrounding the rink into consideration, which created a “physically segregated playing area.” A sole spectator also managed to escape symptoms, but was not tested.
"The high proportion of infections that occurred in this outbreak provides evidence for SARS-CoV-2 transmission during an indoor sporting activity where intense physical activity is occurring," the agency wrote. Staff at the Florida Department of Health followed up with isolation and quarantine guidance to those involved, among other steps taken.
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