It’s still not clear how many people tested positive for Covid-19 after an Anchorage youth hockey tournament in early October that led to what officials described as a cluster of infections.
But the Termination Dust Invitational is already having far-reaching ramifications because of its public health recommendations that visitors go into quarantine for 14 days to ensure they don’t spread the virus rising in Anchorage and other communities through avenues such as social gatherings and sports.
If this recommendation is heeded, it could lead to one of the largest quarantines in the United States since summer outbreaks in the fishing industry detained hundreds of workers from remote factories or hotel rooms in Anchorage.
For three days between October 2 and October 4, more than 300 people, students, coaches, staff, relatives from Anchorage, Eagle River, Chugiak, Wasilla, Palmer, Kenai, Soldotna, Fairbanks and Juneau attended the event at the Ben Boeke and Dempsey Anderson arenas in Anchorage.
The chairman of the Anchorage Hockey Association, which held the tournaments, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The organization claims it followed all correct protocols, although social disassociation was difficult to enforce.
Anchorage’s health department issued a warning Friday: Anyone who tests positive for the virus must isolate themselves from family members for 10 days.
A department spokesman said on Monday a specific count on the number of confirmed positives in people attending the tournaments was not available.
More generally, the municipality advised everyone present to go into quarantine for two weeks.
That means no school districts with students or staff participating in the tournament until next Monday if they follow quarantine recommendations.
Mat-Su, who considers himself one of the largest school districts on the West Coast to offer face-to-face learning, sent a letter on Sunday warning students and teachers to quarantine if they attended so that schools can remain open.
District officials on Monday couldn’t say exactly how many, but some staff and students at multiple schools have voluntarily isolated themselves.
District spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey said there were buildings closed in the district directly related to people attending the tournament last week. Colony High School near Palmer closed briefly last week.
A Fairbanks district spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about tournament-related quarantines.
Catholic Schools of Fairbanks had several players from different teams playing in the tournament, according to safety officer Lorna Illingworth. On Monday they go back to school. No staff were involved.
According to Kristin Bartlett, spokeswoman for the Juneau School District, a Juneau team took part with players from the high school. As it turns out, only a small number of students were involved. The Juneau Douglas Ice Association temporarily halted operations last weekend.
There was no hockey in Juneau on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Bartlett said, adding that the association is working with public health officials on a reopening schedule. We have a pretty close hockey community here in Juneau. Even though it was only one team that traveled, the coaches, staff and players have family members. A lot of hockey is played. “
Statewide, the Alaska State Athletics Association has decided to delay the start of high school hockey until October 26. The season would start on Wednesday.
The recommendation ripples not only about sports and schools, but also jobs for adults who attended or participated, officials say.
School officials in the Kenai Peninsula faced some setback after posting a statement on social media Friday that anyone who participated in the tournament should be quarantined.
Neighborhood spokeswoman Pegge Erkeneff described the reaction as people asking: why are you making this hasty decision? ‘
Part of the statement I returned was that this is not a district decision, “Erkeneff said Monday.” We followed public health guidelines. That helped a little.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services assists with contact tracking. A department spokesperson referred all questions about the quarantine advice to the Anchorage Health Department.
The health department did not provide additional information on Monday.
The tournament cluster is flowing into teams already struggling with numerous COVID-19 delays, including one in Homer, where the entire football schedule is quarantined after two coaches tested positive, Erkeneff said.
Eagle River High Schools’ football season ended Friday after a party on October 3 that resulted in positive cases. The district also paused all high school sports programs all weekend. Monday announced a letter going to Eagle River families announcing that rifle and swim / dive teams would remain suspended pending further test results.
Allowed to return: C team football; flag football; debate, drama and forensics; bowling; and gymnastics.
The Anchorage School District reported last week that 14 teams went through 14-day quarantine periods due to possible exposure to viruses from a teammate or coach. The district also dropped high school volleyball for two weeks after multiple teams in a handful of schools reported COVID-19 illness, related symptoms, or exposure.