On Thursday CNN Health reported Indoor sports potential superspreader events, CDC says, after most ice hockey players in Florida game infected with Covid-19. According to the article:
“One hockey player infected as many as 14 other people at a single indoor ice hockey game last spring, Florida health department officials reported Thursday.”
“That means indoor sports games can turn into superspreader events, the researchers said in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report.” –CNN Health
Source of CNN Health’s Report: A CDC MMWR
This appears to be CNN Health’s first report on COVID-19’s impact on the sport of ice hockey. Apparently all of this stems from a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report called An Outbreak of COVID-19 Associated with a Recreational Hockey Game — Florida, June 2020. This report was contributed by three public health officials at various levels in the State of Florida, and is written in a scientific journal style.
The article references some but not all of the COVID-19 cases associated with hockey that were previously reported on by RinkAtlas:
- Public Health Identifies COVID-19 Cluster Linked to Middletown Sports Complex in NJ
- USPHL Weekend Series in Marietta Georgia Called a “Super-spreader” COVID-19 Event
Hockey May Not Be as Dangerous as the Florida Health Officials Believe
This report and the supporting documents from the CDC should be taken seriously, as it represents anecdotal evidence that can be used to argue that hockey is a dangerous activity from a COVID-19 transmission perspective.
However, they all need to be weighed against published scientific evidence which does not result in the same conclusions. And they need to be understood as the results of one investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak at one arena in Florida.
Another issue is that the MMWR does not sufficiently separate off-ice activity from on-ice. A health official can make the argument that they are inseparable, but the root cause of off-ice activity problems associated with not wearing masks and not social distancing are not problems that are inherent in the sport of ice hockey. These are problems with the structure and content of the off-ice activity.
For instance, banning locker room use and demanding that participants leave the arena with their skates removed and their equipment on could arguably reduce the transmissibility of COVID-19 inside hockey arenas. These are policies that have been adopted by many leagues, teams, and arena management groups.
The questions about these policies are:
- are they truly effective?
- are people who participate in hockey as players, coaches, officials, and parents of youth hockey players, doing everything they can to protect themselves?
Thanks to Peter Caggiano for the tip on the CNN Health article.