Indoor sports have new COVID-19 testing requirements following outbreaks

The recent COVID-19 cases linked to high school wrestling tournaments has brought an update to the statewide safety guidance around indoor sports.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, they say that they have updated the health and safety requirements for high contact indoor sports in the wake of a multi-school, multi-county outbreak. 

In an update, the outbreaks from a series of wrestling tournaments held in early December are now linked to an estimated 200 COVID-19 cases. 

Grays Harbor schools were among the counties that had athletes at the recent events.

The existing guidance has been updated for all indoor, high-contact sports and activities such as basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheer.

COVID-19 testing is required of all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Increased testing frequency to three times per week. Among those screening tests, at least one must occur no sooner than the day before the competition; ideally, and whenever possible, the day of the event.

In addition, DOH wants to remind people of existing requirements for all K-12 sporting events that help keep athletes, staff, and families safer when attending these events:

  • All indoor event spectators must wear masks and should distance from other families or households to the degree possible.
  • Mask wearing is required among all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel in indoor public spaces except when actively competing.
  • Referees must wear masks except when actively officiated and running.

DOH also recognizes some of the affected local health, education, or athletic leaders are choosing to postpone or cancel sporting events or pause sporting activities in order to stop further spread of the disease. There may be differences in how these activities are handled, so we would encourage people to be patient with any potential process or scheduling changes at the local level.

“Omicron is a game-changer, but we know layered prevention measures slow the spread of COVID-19 in sports, schools, and communities.” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for the COVID-19 response. “Please get vaccinated, boosted, wear a well-fitting mask, and maintain your distance to help our kids stay healthy, stay in the game, and stay in school.”

“Vaccinations, in addition to testing and masking, will help keep our athletes healthy and allow everyone to continue to enjoy sporting events while also limiting the spread of disease,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer. “Getting a booster will make protection against the omicron variant even stronger. The booster vaccine is now available for everyone 16 years and older.”