Hockey outbreak cases from other counties push total higher
Pitkin County epidemiologist said Thursday 71 COVID cases now linked to games in Aspen and Glenwood Springs earlier this month
The number of COVID-19 cases from an outbreak that started with adult and kids hockey games in Aspen two weekends ago rose by more than 50% on Thursday after new cases were reported from a total of six Colorado counties, an official said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified local public health officials Thursday that 27 more cases related to hockey games played in Aspen and Glenwood Springs the weekend of Nov. 5-7 had been detected outside the Roaring Fork Valley, Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance said Thursday. That included 22 children and five adults.
Those additions Thursday brought the total number of cases linked to the hockey outbreak to 71, including 36 adults, 27 children and eight others who tested positive after being exposed by those at the hockey games, he said.
“That is a lot of cases,” Vance said. “It was already our largest outbreak (since the pandemic began) before we added 20 to 30 more cases. It’s by far now our largest outbreak.”
The counties with COVID-19 cases tied to the hockey outbreak are Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Routt, Summit and San Miguel, he said. None of the new cases have resulted in hospitalization.
On Wednesday, the total cases linked to the outbreak included 31 adults from 10 different hockey teams and five children from two teams, as well as the eight people exposed to the initial 36 tested positive for COVID-19, he said.
The COVID-19 exposures are all linked to games involving Aspen’s B-league and C-league city hockey adult league teams that played at the Aspen Ice Garden, the ice rink at the Aspen Recreation Center and the Glenwood Springs Ice Rink between Nov. 5-7. A junior hockey tournament the same weekend sickened players who are younger than 18.
The Aspen-area rinks — which are owned by the city of Aspen — began strictly enforcing mask use for hockey players on and off the ice this week, a city spokeswoman said.
The additional cases Thursday caused Pitkin County’s COVID-19 numbers to rise even further, according to online dashboards.
Public Health reported 72 new cases of the virus in the county in the seven-day period ending Wednesday, including 63 residents and nine out of county cases. The incidence rate of the virus per 100,000 people — which was 158 on Nov. 9 — hit 355 on Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control considers communities with an incidence rate higher than 50 per 100,000 people as having “substantial” transmission, while anything above 100 is considered a “high” level of transmission.
“We’re really looking at Thanksgiving next week,” Vance said. “There’s definitely a lot more COVID in the community. Whatever people can do to practice precautions for the holiday (is important). Be as safe as possible when gathering with people.
“We’re definitely pretty concerned heading into December.”
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After a COVID-19 outbreak related to youth and adult hockey games in Aspen spiked local case numbers and incidence rates last week, the rate of transmission dropped significantly this week.