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Coronavirus beat both teams in a bad hockey game

They range in age from 19 to 53, weekend fighters who are likely to grow up playing hockey on ponds, youth leagues and high school teams. Even adults, they will not leave the ice. However despite their combined Athleticism and practice, they are not compatible for coronavirus.

Their deadly battle took place on June 16 in Tampa, Fla. Within 60 minutes, the 22 men took turns furiously, sweating, spitting and checking their way up and down the ice in a bid to reach a hard rubber tire and control its sticky passage.

Five days later, 1

4 of the 22 players developed symptoms of COVID-19. Fifteen people, a staff member at the ice rink, also fell ill. Thirteen of these 15 people went for a positive test for a coronavirus infection. The other two have not been tested.

All patients appear to be infected by a single person who does not develop any external symptoms of COVID-19 until one day after being eligible for the night game.

None of the remaining eight players showed symptoms of COVID-19, so no one was tested for infection. But if they did, the recorded infection rate could be even higher.

For hockey players eager for a chance to tie their skates, hit the ice and escape the pandemic momentarily, the implications are serious.

“The ice rink provides a venue that is likely to be suitable for serving COVID-19 as an indoor environment where deep breathing takes place, and people are close to each other,” the three members wrote. Florida Department of Health in a report published this week by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the authors, David Atrubin, introduced himself as a hockey player in the Tampa area, who ruled antihockey bias as a possible motive for the search.

The case highlights many characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that have become difficult to control.

The first is the role of “silent spreaders.” The “patient index” – which worsened with fever, cough, sore throat and headache the day after the game – in all accounts felt at night he showed up at the rink to play.

The researchers found that people infected with coronavirus appear to be contagious starting almost 2 days before their symptoms become apparent. In fact, a study published in the journal Nature found the peak of this “viral shedding” about 18 hours before the symptoms set.

The index patient spread the virus to eight of his 10 teammates, five of the 11 players on the opposing team, and the rink staff. (Neither of the two referees became ill.) Once infected, it will take an average of four to five days (and up to 14 days) for the next round of victims to get sick. At that time, everyone is likely to spread the coronavirus “quietly” to others. (Florida health officials did not report cases beyond those directly tied to the game.)

Meanwhile, some of the eight players who never got sick may have carried the virus themselves and spread the rest under the radar. Since they have not been tested, there is no way to know.

The report also emphasizes a point where scientists and public health officials have been going back and forth since the early days of the pandemic: That under the right conditions, the coronavirus would appear to be spreading well from one person to another towards another through the air.

That is especially true when individuals who are not wearing masks are standing close to – or, in the case of hockey, checking, bumping, shoulder and driving the net in close contact with – other people.

None of Tampa hockey players wear face masks during the game or when using their separate locker rooms. While playing, some use metal cages that protect the face or plastic protective shields. But they are better guarded against a raised stick or a flying puck than coronavirus particles in the air.

While the so-called “aerosol delivery” has long been a suspected factor in the spread, it was not until this month that the CDC identified the particles that may play a major role in the pandemic.

U.S. health officials have long warned that sneezing or coughing of an infected person could infect people in close range. They also focus on the threat posed by droplets from coughs and sneezing coming to doorknobs, handrails and other high-touch surfaces – a threat that can be counteracted by frequent hand washing and sanitary use.

But despite evidence from overgrowth in meatpacking plants, choir skills and high-intensity fitness classes, they resisted the growing surmise that the virus was enough for a sick person to be expelled from breath of an infected person, and then last longer the air that other people suck.

In that June’s hockey game, droplets both large and small were likely to conspire to create a super-spreader event.

Hockey is often played on cavernous and open indoor rinks. But in places like smoky Tampa, ventilation from the outside means an unwanted loss of cool air that helps maintain ice.

An ice hockey goal at a local public skating rink

The atmosphere of an indoor ice hockey rink in a place like Florida helps a super-spreader event in the right circumstances.

(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Beginner teams typically play three seasons that last 15 to 20 minutes each, alternating ice time talking against teammates on a bench within a plexiglass enclure. As they jump and drop ice, players tend to spit and expel mucus. The effort of skating and either interrupting or repelling the opposing players caused heavy breathing. Scrums and pile-ups in the corners, where the puck often goes, are common.

All of that takes place in a space measuring 200 feet by 85 feet, surrounded by plexiglass for the safety of spectators. And before that spitting, shouting and sharing visible players in the locker room.

This game involves a limited number of players. However it appears to satisfy the criteria for a super-spreader event – a single meeting of people capable of activating a wide net of infections that could quickly become overwhelming for local health authorities of the public to track and contain.

The account was published in the Friday edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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