Several teams report COVID-19 outbreaks after 2021 college championships

Following the 2021 club and college seasons largely free of major COVID-related disruption, the tournament came just as the omicron variant sent the number of cases nationwide to record highs.

Compete at the 2021 Collegiate Championships in Norco, CA. Photo: Isaac Wasserman – UltiPhotos.com

After a four-day, 72-team 2021 varsity championship that saw several players and teams withdraw in accordance with COVID-19 contact tracing protocols, numerous other teams reported positive test results from the week following the tournament. . Of the 52 DI and D-III teams that responded to Ultiworld in press time, 28 reported at least one positive test between December 17 (the first day of the tournament) and December 27 (one week after the tournament ended. ); 17 of these teams reported positive tests for at least 3 registered players who attended the national championships, and 8 teams reported that 7 or more players tested positive.

These reports come during a record wave of COVID-19 connected to the highly transmissible omicron variant. This is the first time that Ultiworld has become aware of a significant number of reported cases of players attending a major tournament in the United States since domestic competition resumed in the summer of 2021.

While December’s One-Time Championships in Norco, Calif., Were intended as a celebration of the ultimate varship’s return to play as well as a final hurray for graduating players who missed seasons in 2020 and 2021, the pandemic dominated the game’s first round event. Within minutes of play started on Friday, Carleton CUT lost a pool match and ultimately withdrew from the tournament after a player who had traveled and trained with the team reported a positive test; by Sunday, the two Brandeis teams and the UC San Diego men’s team would also withdraw, while other teams have lost several players before or during Tournament. In the week after the games were over, the female finalists from DI North Carolina Pleiades and Washington Element took to Twitter to announce additional positive tests within their squads.

They weren’t alone: ​​Despite the near-universal vaccination among teams that responded to Ultiworld as well as many extra precautions taken by teams with some of the highest positivity rates, there have been many sporadic and even sporadic cases. significant outbreaks. A team that brought over 25 registered players to Norco reported up to 21 positive players, all detected within a week of the tournament; another team with less than 15 players reported 13 positives, as well as at least 6 positives among other people who were with the team on site (such as coaches, chaperones, parents or fans).

Teams reporting positive COVID-19 results after the 2021 DI and D-III College Championships in Norco, Calif. (Click to enlarge)

The data was collected via a survey sent to all DI and D-III teams that attended the national championships (with the exception of Carleton CUT, who retired early on day one and was not present during the most of the event).1

It should be noted that this data only measures the number of positive test results reported within a team during or shortly after the tournament and may not reflect how or where players contracted COVID-19, the fake ones. negative or positive, or variations in test plans. and record keeping from team to team; nor is it an indication of how many players have been or may have been contagious at national championships. Nonetheless, the extent of the spread of COVID-19 among college players during this time is striking, especially given cross-border flights, shared accommodation for sleeping and eating, and other risks associated with a large travel tournament.

The experience was overwhelming for many teams who felt they were doing enough to prevent transmission. Of the 28 teams that reported at least one positive result, 24 told Ultiworld that the vaccines were required by their school or team or that the team was fully vaccinated by choice; all teams with 7 or more positives reported being fully vaccinated throughout the team. 15 of the 28 positive teams also told Ultiworld that they require or strongly encourage testing before the tournament.

“We have all been doubly vaccinated and many of us have also received a booster,” said a contact from a team with more than 10 positive cases. “We all had covid tests just before traveling (all negative). We were all very careful during the trip and during the tournament, and formed a bubble with just our team and masked around everyone. We only had take out and tried to keep our distance from as many people as possible. No one had symptoms until the end of the tournament and we went home.

A contact for another team with over 7 reported cases, “We have asked our team to do weekly covid testing since we were cleared to practice in the fall of 2020 (at the time, in masked pods). ). I can only remember one person on our team who had caught covid in the past two years, but there may be one or two other people that I forget. Ultimately, we didn’t have any spread or exposure as part of a team. This is our team’s first outbreak – no issues with Sections and Regions. “

Ultiworld College Championships video production and reporting team experienced a significant COVID-19 outbreak after the tournament, with 13 of 25 staff reporting positive test results; this despite taking precautions that go beyond the requirements of USAU’s media partners,2 require proof of vaccination and proof of a negative test result within 48 hours of travel. The outbreak came as a surprise after not having had any such incidents at the USAU club championships until October 2021, when groundbreaking infections from earlier COVID-19 variants like the delta variant were already at risk. known.

Interestingly, the 24 teams that did not report any cases to Ultiworld include several who described well-organized testing protocols and COVID-19 response plans, suggesting they would have been likely to detect and report any positive cases. if it had happened. A contact from a team without a case said: “Our team tried to be very aware and I think our efforts have paid off. We asked our teammates, coaches and supporters to get tested before coming to the national championships. All tested negative, and [they] only stayed with our team the entire time. We also tested ourselves when we left to make sure and all came back negative. Another team with no positive cases among participants at the national championships reported that following a positive test result from a teammate the week before the tournament, the team held a meeting to decide whether ‘to attend; a handful of players chose not to travel due to COVID-19 concerns, and players who attended were tested daily.

So far, USA Ultimate’s 2021 club and college seasons had been largely free of major disruption related to COVID-19, with the exception of some controversy surrounding a single positive case at SFI West. The tournament followed that of the USAU recently updated COVID-19 regulations for national events, which require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR for all participants, as well as contact tracing protocols in which any close contact of a confirmed positive case must quarantine for 14 days if not vaccinated or leave the site until he can provide USAU with a negative PCR test performed at least 5 days after exposure if vaccinated.

USAU conducted conduct research for teams and media organizations that reported positive tests during the tournament; Communications Director Andy Lee said the organization has communicated extensively with teams and players who have reported positive tests and close contact during and after the event as part of the contact tracing process, but has no further comments at this time.

While the omicron variant was on the rise until early December, the tournament came almost precisely as a particularly marked increase in reported cases began to take root; daily case tables for the end of 2021 show a strong upward inflection around December 15-17, when teams, staff and other participants were already traveling. Now many colleges are delay their return to in-person training to avoid a spike in cases after the holidays, give students more time to get booster shots or estimate the total number of cases before committing to a full spring semester on campus.

USAU’s spring college season kicks off this week, with early-season Florida Winter Classic must-haves to be held on January 15 and 16 and Santa Barbara Invites on January 28 and 29. January’s LeiOut and LA Throwback social tournaments have been canceled.


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