COVID-19 outbreak linked to Louisiana Classic high school wrestling tournament

Danielle Allentuck
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

The Louisiana Department of Health has linked a COVID-19 outbreak to the Louisiana Classic Wrestling Tournament, which was held Jan. 15-16 in Gonzales. Over 20 athletes, staff and attendees have tested positive. 

Thirty schools from across the state attended the tournament, with about 365 wrestlers participating. There were also approximately 200 coaches, 100 volunteers, eight officials and 703 spectators in attendance. The total reported occupancy was 1,376, which was below the 25 percent limit. 

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Videos from the event that were posted on social media show little social distancing, with athletes lining up shoulder to shoulder, and few wearing masks. 

The Department of Health said that anyone who was there should consider themselves exposed to the virus and should get tested, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. They also said that all attendees should quarantine and stay home.

Although many teams across all sports have had to quarantine and cancel games because of positive cases and quarantines, this is the first known outbreak associated with a high school sporting event in Louisiana.

Eddie Bonine, the executive director of the LHSAA, has said that to keep wresters safe was going to bigger challenge than other sports. Guidelines released by the organization advised against holding large tournaments like the one in Gonzales, recommending that teams opt for more duel and tri meets instead. 

"I truly believe that the majority of our 404 member schools, their athletes, coaches, athletic directors, administration, sports medicine personnel, and state LDH assigned Regional Doctors have been very diligent and conscientious with their efforts," Bonine said in an email. "We have taken measures and have learned how to cope and co-exist with the virus in our school settings and athletic competitions."

Bonine added that they do not plan to cancel any future competitions or add any additional safety precautions. 

The state wrestling tournament is scheduled for late February at Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge.