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Up to 90 COVID-19 cases linked to high school wrestling tournaments in Washington

So far, between 80 and 90 COVID-19 cases have been linked to four high school wrestling tournaments in Washington state. The tournaments all took place on Dec. 4.

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating multiple COVID-19 outbreaks linked to four high school wrestling tournaments across the state.

The DOH said an estimated 80-90 cases, including several identified as the omicron variant, have been linked to the tournaments held on Dec. 4.

Cases were confirmed in wrestlers, coaches, family members and spectators across 20 schools. Nine schools have reached outbreak status with three or more cases linked to the tournaments.

The COVID-19 outbreaks include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The DOH said the total cases linked to the tournaments may change as the investigation continues. The department is discussing the incident with Gov. Jay Inslee's office. 

The wrestling tournaments linked to the outbreaks include:

  • John Birbeck Invitational in Lacey, Washington
  • Ed Arima Duals in Sumner, Washington
  • Lady Jags Kickoff Tournament in Puyallup, Washington
  • Yelm Girls Varsity in Yelm, Washington

Students from Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima counties attended the Dec. 4 tournaments. The DOH said a high school in Oregon also participated in at least one of the tournaments.

Snohomish County reported 33 local cases linked to the outbreak. 

North Thurston Public Schools is postponing some games to a later date during ongoing contact tracing out of an abundance of caution, according to a release.

The Vashon Island School District reported six COVID-19 cases at Vashon High School were linked to one of the wrestling tournaments and said there may be 150 or more close contact exposures at the school. The district said it halted all wrestling activities as a precaution.

According to Washington state COVID-19 guidelines, masks are not required for fully vaccinated athletes practicing or competing in high-risk indoor sports, which includes wrestling. Masks are also not required for unvaccinated athletes, as long as they are tested for COVID-19 twice a week using a molecular or antigen test.

Anyone who attended one of the tournaments should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested for the virus. The DOH said anyone with symptoms or who tests positive for COVID-19 should stay home and quarantine.

Local health jurisdictions are expected to send out notifications to impacted schools with further guidance in the coming days.

King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin addressed the outbreak during a media briefing on Wednesday: 

According to the DOH, the “best protection against [COVID-19] is to get vaccinated, and then for those 16 years and older to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.” Everyone ages 5 and over are currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A team of DOH epidemiologists is working with local health jurisdictions to investigate the events and corresponding outbreaks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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