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US Indoor Basketball Facility Ignores Health Officials' Calls to Close Following COVID-19 Outbreak

22:15  26 november  2020
22:15  26 november  2020 Source:   newsweek.com

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A community basketball facility in northern California has refused to close its indoor operations despite being tied to a COVID-19 outbreak, local health officials announced on Wednesday.

a group of people walking down the street: People wait in long lines for coronavius tests at a walk-up Covid-19 testing site, November 24, 2020, in San Fernando, California, just northeast of the city of Los Angeles. On Wednesday, public health officials in northern California warned Placer County residents of a COVID-19 outbreak tied to an indoor basketball facility. © ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images People wait in long lines for coronavius tests at a walk-up Covid-19 testing site, November 24, 2020, in San Fernando, California, just northeast of the city of Los Angeles. On Wednesday, public health officials in northern California warned Placer County residents of a COVID-19 outbreak tied to an indoor basketball facility.

Placer County health officials issued a public health advisory the day before Thanksgiving warning county residents to avoid Courtside Basketball Center in Rocklin. Officials said the facility has been linked to more than two dozen COVID-19 cases thus far.

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"This Health Alert is being issued because of the large scale of the apparent outbreak and potential geographic range that make contact tracing difficult," the alert read. "In addition, the facility has refused to cease indoor operations and continues to host tournaments despite being advised such operations are not allowed and with full knowledge that COVID-19 cases have been associated with activities at the facility."

Registration was open on Thursday on Courtside Basketball Center's website for youth athletes interested in participating in two upcoming winter and holiday tournaments taking place next month, and a third event scheduled for December 18, 19 and 20 was also listed on the facility's schedule of upcoming tournaments.

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The facility includes on its website a description of the COVID-19 precautions it said it is taking in response to the pandemic. Those precautions include mask requirements, limits on the numbers of teams allowed in each division, a two-chaperone requirement for each player and sanitation recommendations. Players, coaches, referees and others who attend the events are also required to pass a temperature check before entering the facility, according to its protocols.

The individuals whose COVID-19 infections have been linked to the facility thus far are from two other counties, according to Placer County health officials. All of the infected individuals tied to the outbreak attended youth basketball tournaments on November 7 and 8, the alert said.

Health officials advised anyone who has attended an event or participated in an activity at Courtside Basketball Center to get tested for COVID-19, as some of the individuals who may have been exposed during the tournaments on November 7 and 8 also attended events at the facility after that weekend, health officials said.

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"While a COVID - 19 outbreak is not unexpected in Canada, our public health system is prepared to respond. PHAC, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, continues to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves," the PHAC website

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Placer County is currently listed as a purple-tier area on the California Department of Public Health's map, which details the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. Nearly 95 percent of the state's population currently lives in areas within the most restrictive purple tier, which a county falls into once it reports either a seven-day average testing positivity rate above 8 percent or a seven-day average daily case rate exceeding 7 new infections per 100,000 residents.

According to state data, Placer County on Monday had a seven-day average testing positivity rate of 6.1 percent and was reporting a seven-day average of more than 16 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. That purple tier designation means many nonessential businesses are not currently allowed to proceed with indoor operations.

Children's sporting competitions like those that took place at Courtside Basketball Center are also not permitted per the state's COVID-19 restrictions, county health officials said. "The cases of COVID-19 associated with Courtside Basketball Center are a reminder that contact sports facilitate the spread of coronavirus and illustrate why tournaments are not allowed," the health alert said.

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Newsweek reached out to Courtside Basketball Center for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

By Wednesday, November 25, Placer County health officials reported a total of 6,224 COVID-19 cases and 68 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. California is one of the few states in the U.S. that has reported more than one million COVID-19 cases this year, which represents nearly one-tenth of the country's total infections.

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