Oh puck. If you want to play indoor ice hockey exactly the way you played it before 2020, put these plans on hold. A new publication in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Weekly Report on Morbidity and Mortality (MMWR) described how an indoor ice hockey game resulted in a Covid-19 coronavirus super-spreader event.
In the publication, David Atrubin, Michael Wiese, and Becky Bohinc of the Florida Department of Health explained what happened after a recreational ice hockey game took place on an indoor ice rink in Tampa Bay, Florida. If three members of a health department describe an ice hockey game, there’s a good chance something went wrong. The game pitted two 11-player teams against each other. The teams consisted of men aged 19 to 53 years.
Now this game was played on June 16, 2020. That’s roughly three missed haircuts after the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic was declared a pandemic. That’s about three months after public health experts started pushing everyone to social distancing. They know that the entire stay is always six feet or a denzel (because Denzel Washington is about six feet tall) apart. A regular hockey game these guys played for 60 minutes is not social distancing. The only way to stay three feet apart while checking (throwing your body at someone) is to wear about 720 layers of clothing. That gives or takes a few layers depending on whether any of those layers are pads or Spanx. Also, the players sat side by side on the bench during the game and spent about 20 minutes before the game and 20 minutes after shuffling and shuffling the game.
In addition, it is very difficult to breathe in ice hockey. Not because there is avocado toast, but because there can be a lot of physical exertion. Breathing deeper and harder can result in more viruses being expelled from the nose and mouth when severe coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) with acute respiratory syndrome treats your body like a cheap motel.
The players did not wear face masks even when playing. Check it out. Some wore standard ice hockey face masks. This included those that either look like shopping carts in front of their faces (metal cages) or transparent Boba Fett masks (plastic half-shields). Such masks wouldn’t actually block everything coming out of the players’ noses or mouths, except maybe fragments of chewing gum or hot dog. For a face mask to really protect others from you, it needs to cover your nose and mouth tightly.
Again, the game took place in an indoor setting. Ice hockey is usually not played in a wind tunnel, so the air circulation was not the same as outdoors. To recap: indoor environment, people approaching, difficult breathing, no masks. Not the best attitude to take to avoid the Covid-19 coronavirus.
It usually takes about four to five days for symptoms to appear after initial exposure to SARS-CoV-2, although the incubation period can range from two to 14 days. Sure enough, within five days of the game, 14 players (eight from one team and five from the other) and an employee of the ice rink experienced Covid-19-y symptoms. Thirteen of these people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Only those who developed symptoms were tested. So more people could have been infected.
This was not the only time that the Covid-19 coronavirus has brought itself to the ice rink. For example, on September 14th, Carly Baldwin wrote for Patch about a group of 13 Covid-19 coronavirus infections among members of youth ice hockey teams training at the Middletown Sports Complex in Middletown, NJ. On October 6, Ariel Hart and Helena Oliviero signed up for The Atlanta Journal Constitution a junior hockey league game between a Georgia team and a North Carolina team that potentially infected more than 40 people.
That doesn’t mean you have to get the puck out of here and give up the game of ice hockey entirely. The National Hockey League (NHL) has been able to keep its Stanley Cup playoffs reasonably free of Covid-19 coronavirus by socializing its coaches and players and aggressively maintaining other virus prevention measures. Of course, such social bubbling may not be a practical option for you unless you’re part of a really serious ice hockey team.
There are other possible adjustments, however. USA Hockey maintains a website about the Covid-19 coronavirus and provides a notice about precautions you can take. They can treat the game like a cheap skate in a restaurant and have a “no check” policy. That would mean always keeping at least a Denzel distance from others and not having any physical contact. You can also get the puck outdoors where there is more natural ventilation. Avoid sharing devices or touching the puck. If you reduce the number of people on the ice at the same time, you can always move further apart. Keep your distance outside of the ice. If you perform each of these actions in a combination of shifts, your risk will be further reduced.
Dies CBC news Segment described changes that can occur in different hockey leagues:
As the northern hemisphere pushes deeper into autumn and soon into winter, you should step up precautionary measures. As I wrote before for ForbesThe transmission of the virus can increase at lower temperatures and lower relative humidity. This can be a particular problem for ice hockey as lower temperatures can mean the difference between an ice rink and a swimming pool. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to drop ice hockey altogether. You can still stick to any form of sport, whether it is exercise or safe game adjustments. Just don’t swaddle around exposing you to the virus.
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