A non-professional ice hockey game that was played in Florida turned into a ‘superspreader’ event as 14 out of the 22 players that took part developed the COVD-19 virus after the game. A report was published on the incident in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report examined the danger and risk of indoor sporting events in spreading COVID-19.
The game, which was held on June 16 at an ice rink in Tampa Bay, Florida, involved two teams of 11 players each, according to the report, from researchers at the Florida Department of Health. At a given time, six players were on the ice and five on the bench, the report said. All of the players were male, and ranged in age from 19 to 53 years old. None of the players wore cloth masks on the ice or in the locker rooms, although some players wore hockey-related face protection gear.
Ice rink conducive for COVID-19 transmission
The new report on the game has been one of the first to document the spread of COVID-19 at a sporting event although there have been several reports.
“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,” the report said.
The report further found that the cold temperatures of the ice rink may also help the virus spread, as has been suggested by outbreaks in meat processing plants. Cold temperatures allow the virus to survive for longer outside the body, including in the air. The ice-rink environment creates the potential for a “superspreader event, especially with ongoing community COVID-19 transmission,” they concluded.