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CDC: Polk County wrestling tournaments tied to 79 COVID-19 cases, one death


CDC scientists reported this week in a major medical journal that schools where coronavirus precautions are in effect have not been a major source of community transmission.

But they cited wrestling tournaments in Polk County as a cautionary example of how things can go wrong.

The two tournaments, involving 10 high schools, were held on December 4th and 5th at Mulberry High.

A CDC study released this week connected them to at least 79 cases among coaches, referees, wrestlers and their contacts at home and at school. One contact over 50 died from COVID-19.

Their families were hit the hardest.

As the cases surged, Polk County Public Schools suspended athletics. Now a school spokesman says they have resumed, with limits on attendance.

Attendance is limited to 50 percent, and the district announced Wednesday that, beginning Feb.1,  it will be reduced further, depending on the venue.

The district continues to monitor coronavirus cases.

The CDC concluded that high-contact sports where mask wearing and physical distancing are not possible should be postponed while COVID-19 rages in the area.

Otherwise, expect it to spread on campus and in the community with the potential for severe outcomes, including death.


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.