More than 20 student athletes, staff and spectators who attended a wrestling tournament in Louisiana have tested positive for Covid-19. Now, the state health department is advising everyone who attended to get tested for the virus.
The Louisiana Classic Wrestling Tournament took place earlier this month at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, a town about 60 miles west of New Orleans. Students, parents and school staff from across the state convened over two days to watch high school wrestling matches.
“Anyone who attended the tournament either day — January 15 or January 16 — should consider themselves exposed to COVID-19,” the Louisiana Department of Health’s statement said.
Photos from the event published by the Acadiana Advocate show inconsistent mask use among those in attendance, many of whom were seated within close proximity of each other.
In total, nearly 1,400 people attended the tournament, which was below the 25% threshold for venue occupancy, which follows the state’s sporting event policy during the pandemic, Louisiana High School Athletic Association executive director Eddie Bonine told CNN in an email.
Bonine said there are no plans to cancel future wrestling events, and the athletic association won’t implement additional Covid-19 prevention efforts beyond the mask mandates, limited capacity and screening processes.
“The protocols, recommendations and guidelines this association has in place, if adhered to, will keep any and all participants and spectators safe,” Bonine said. The director said he did not attend the tournament and could not speak to circumstances.
Ascension Parish, where the wrestling tournament took place, is at “highest risk” of Covid-19, according to the state health department’s coronavirus case tracker. The parish has seen nearly 10,000 Covid-19 cases among its 126,600-plus residents.
CNN has reached out to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center for comment and is waiting to hear back.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally advises against attending indoor events during the pandemic. In its guidelines for youth sports, the CDC specifically names wrestling as a sport that requires players to come within six feet of each other. For wrestling matches during the pandemic, the CDC advises modifying play to avoid competition altogether.
If sporting events must be held indoors, the CDC says, they should take place only in well-ventilated buildings. Attendees inside should maintain ample distance from each other and wear masks, the CDC says.