EXETER, N.H. (AP) — Public health officials in multiple northeastern U.S. states are investigating the possible spread of the coronavirus among youth hockey players.
The New York State Amateur Hockey Association said last week that some of its players tested positive for the virus after attending a skills clinic in New Hampshire and playing in a tournament in Connecticut. Some players are “very sick,” the association said, and have passed the virus to family members.
While ice hockey competitions are allowed in Connecticut and New Hampshire, they are prohibited in New York and Massachusetts. In a letter distributed last week, the New York association criticized “overzealous coaches and parents” for traveling across state lines.
“Participating in out-of-state tournaments, with players from other states, is not a very smart decision,” it wrote. “These reckless actions resulting in sick players and others will not help our cause at all.”
Chet Murch, general manager of The Rinks at Exeter in New Hampshire, told the Boston Globe that at least a dozen players from New York tested positive after the July 31-Aug. 2 tournament in Connecticut, as did a Massachusetts teenager who competed with a New York team and later attended the New Hampshire clinic.
He said his facility has followed all safety protocols, but the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said it is reviewing complaints.
“Any breach of public health guidance that puts individuals at risk will not be tolerated. End of story,” Gov. Chris Sununu told WMUR-TV.
Connecticut public health officials did not respond to the Globe’s requests for comment, but the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it is working with other New England states to coordinate contact tracing.
Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center, said coaches and athletes may consider infection rates in neighboring states low enough to participate in contact sports, but there is inherent danger.
The teenager “cheated the system by leaving the state and, lo and behold, there was a risk associated with close contact sports,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.