TAMPA, Fla. – We’ve seen it all over the country, events becoming super-spreaders for coronavirus, and now a new CDC report says that an amateur hockey game in the Tampa Bay area became one earlier this summer.
Experts still learn a lot when it comes to super-spreaders, and although there is no exact medical definition, the general consensus as outlined by Dr. Thomas Unnasch, an outstanding professor at USF, “An event in which a single individual results in the infection of multiple secondary contacts.”
That was exactly what happened at the Bay Area hockey game on June 1
The article outlined in the CDC’s weekly report on morbidity and mortality, written by staff from Hillsborough County, Pinellas County and the Florida Department of Health, says that one infected player at the hockey game probably continued to infect at least 14 others.
The facility where the game was held was not mentioned in the report, but it is stated that the game included men aged 19-53 years. The article went on to say that each hockey team had 11 players, there was a spectator inside the arena, two referees and at least one employee on the rink.
According to the CDC report, 14 hockey players ended up with COVID-19 as well as one employee on the ice rink.
However, the article also says, “A limitation of this study was that not all players from the game sought testing, and asymptomatic infections may not be identified.”
The authors say that face coverings of fabric were not worn during the game or in the locker rooms.
This event represents one of the few published reports regarding COVID-19 transmission associated with specific sporting events.
“The indoor area and the close contact between players during a hockey game increases the risk of infection for the players and creates potential for a super-spreading event, especially with the ongoing societal COVID-19 transmission. Superspread events in which an infectious person infects many others can lead to explosive growth at the beginning of an outbreak and facilitate sustained transmission later in an outbreak. ”
CDC Weekly Report on Morbidity and Mortality, 16 October 2020
While there are few cases of documented sporting events leading to COVID-19 outbreaks, “super-spreaders” are not unheard of. In fact, experts, including Dr. Unnasch that the majority of the transmission of COVID-19 comes from a small group of people called “super-spreaders” who have larger amounts of the virus than average.
“They are terribly contagious people and there is a very good chance that you will be infected,” said Dr. Unnasch.
The problem is that there is no real way to identify them.
“Probably about 1 in 300 or 1 in 500 people walking around out there in Hillsborough County right now or possibly in our state are super-spreaders,” said Dr. Unnasch.
So your best choice to avoid infection is to limit how many people you are around and ensure that both parties wear masks when you come in contact with people.
“I think it’s pretty safe to practice these sports in empty arenas. The chances of you having a super spreader on two teams, each with 11 people, let’s say for a football match, are probably not that great. But then if you fill that arena with 25,000 people, the chances of you getting a super-spreading event are there. ”
But as was the case with the June hockey game, which was inside an empty arena where one person infected more than half of the players and an employee on the ice rink, there is always a risk.