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Wrestlers at youth tournament contract the coronavirus

MINNEAPOLIS  — Minnesota health officials are urging those who attended a recent youth wrestling tournament in South Dakota to get tested for COVID-19 after a number of wrestlers contracted the coronavirus.

Officials have been concerned about youth sports fueling an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Positive infections have been found in 16 of the 2,000 wrestlers plus spectators from Minnesota who were in Sioux Falls for a state meet held by the Northland Youth Wrestling Association March 31-April 3, the Star Tribune reported.

The tournament, which involved wrestlers from 52 Minnesota counties, was moved from Rochester to Sioux Falls where coronavirus restrictions for sporting events are less stringent.

A mask mandate in Sioux Falls expired March 13. The arena venue encouraged masks and social distancing but did not require them. TV coverage showed unmasked athletes and spectators packed tightly together during the tournament.

While children rarely suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, they can pass the virus to parents or other older adults who are more vulnerable, said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

That is especially true now that a more infectious B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus is believed to be the cause of as many as 60% of new infections in Minnesota. That variant was first identified in England and spread quickly among children and younger adults in Europe, Osterholm said.