Boston.com reported on Wednesday that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said that “most” hockey teams refused to hand over rosters so that COVID-19 contact tracers could follow up with players and their families. The report goes on to say, “According to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, there were even several instances of coaches telling families not to respond to contact tracers.”
Massachusetts Hockey’s statement on the temporary shutdown reads, in part:
While many of the players, families and facilities throughout the state have been following the guidance as expected, there have been situations and areas where the Commonwealth feels compliance with the guidance has not been followed. Unfortunately, unless we are able to correct these issues, we would anticipate any further shutdown could be significantly longer than the current two weeks. This is related to both the guidance issued as well as cooperation with the contact tracing process. –Massachusetts Hockey
In addition to the previously cited issues, MA HHS Secretary Sudders reportedly said that there were a few circumstances where coaches suggested that a player’s quarantine meant they could still play for a different, non-quarantined team. This allegation was mildly disputed by Mass Hockey President Bob Joyce.
RinkAtlas has previously noted many cases where activity outside of the walls of the arena were contributing factors to COVID-19 outbreaks traced to amateur hockey. We’ve also identified situations where hockey organizations who knew they had COVID-positive members did not follow contact tracing-best practices, and instead relied on the results of rapid COVID tests which are known to under-report positives.
It’s frustrating to see hockey singled out in this fashion. However, there is no excuse for not participating in contact tracing and not following best practices with respect to mask use and social distancing to the extent that is possible in the context of hockey practices and games, and to the extent that is required by state and provincial law.