DOH: COVID-19 outbreaks connected to multiple high school wrestling tournaments

The Washington State Department of Health is investigating several outbreaks of COVID-19 connected to multiple high school wrestling tournaments earlier this month. 

Officials said on Wednesday there are about 80 to 90 cases among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Here are the tournaments that were connected to the outbreaks on Dec. 4: 

  • John Birbeck Invitational in Lacey
  • Ed Arima Duals in Sumner
  • Lady Jags Kickoff Tournament in Puyallup
  • Yelm Girls Varsity in Yelm

Several counties had high schools that participated in the events: Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima. A high school in Oregon also sent participants.

The Department of Health is advising people who attended the events as a participant, coach, official, support staff, or spectator should monitor for symptoms and get tested for COVID-19. 

"I looked at some pictures and video of these events and there were a ton of people in indoor spaces, crowded into bleachers, and not wearing masks," said Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for DOH. "I can say very clearly, so no guidance was not being followed."

So far, three of the cases are confirmed to be Omicron.

"Really the icing on this cake today is that these are turning out to be, at least some percentage of these, omicron variants that are much, much more infectious," said Dr. Lindquist. "This is an early, ongoing investigation. I have a sense that it’s going to be very large, and I have a sense that Omicron is going to play a big role in this."

A spokesperson with Seattle Public Schools told FOX 13 News ten wrestlers and two staff members have recently tested positive.

In Lacey, a spokesperson with North Thurston Public Schools released a statement that said in part, "Out of an abundance of caution and ongoing contact tracing around an emerging COVID-19 situation, we are postponing some of our games."

 Dr. Jeff Duchin of Seattle-King County Public Health said health workers have been able to verify the vaccine status of about 70 people, and of those about 80 percent of the cases have been fully-vaccinated.

"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 that have been reported to us to-date," said Dr. Duchin.

Dr. Duchin said outbreaks have been identified at nine schools, but 20 schools are reporting at least one positive case of Covid-19.

"This outbreak serves as a clear reminder that COVID-19 continues to spread in our communities," health officials said. 

Local health officials will be sending out notifications on the next steps to the schools involved.

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