Multiple coronavirus cases linked to sporting tournaments in Wisconsin Dells

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — Public health officials in multiple counties are investigating several cases of COVID-19 linked to sporting tournaments in Wisconsin Dells.

Emails detailing positive cases were provided to News 3 Now on Friday by a coach whose team participated in a tournament at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells in July. News 3 Now is granting the coach’s request to remain anonymous.

One email sent to multiple coaches, including the coach News 3 Now spoke to, came from Kyler Royston, the owner of JustAgame.

In the email, Royston said at least one person who was inside the facility tested positive for COVID-19. The email indicated the person was there three times for volleyball between July 8-14. Royston said he was informed of the positive case by the Columbia County Health Department.

“We will continue with our prior guidelines and as an added precaution are now also requiring all individuals to wear a mask while inside facilities with the exception of players, coaches and officials when a game is in progress,” Royston said in the email.

News 3 Now has reached out to the Columbia County Health Department regarding this positive case and others linked to sports tournaments in the county. Public health officials have not responded to a request for comments as of Friday afternoon.

The same coach also received an email from a nurse with the Sauk County Public Health Department. In that email, the nurse said she was given the coach’s contact information from JustAgame Fieldhouse. In the email, the nurse said the coach’s team played against two individuals from another team that had tested positive for coronavirus.

“It sounds like your team wouldn’t be considered ‘close contacts’ or need to quarantine since nobody is shaking hands or touching from different teams, but we wanted to pass the information along so you and your team were aware of the situation,” the nurse said in the email.

On Thursday, Tim Lawther, the health officer for the Sauk County Health Department, also confirmed Sauk County is looking into positive cases linked to sports tournaments.

Royston did not wish to comment on cases linked to the facility on Thursday, but he said tournaments scheduled for the next two weekends are moving forward as planned. The facility’s website also notes tournaments are scheduled for this weekend.

A liability waiver for JustAgame indicates the company is not responsible for issues such as physical injuries or illness.

News 3 Now asked officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services about the safety of sports tournaments during a media briefing Friday afternoon.

“Certainly we want people to remain active and have physical activity, but when people are coming together and they’re gathering, especially when you’re talking about situations where there are athletes that are exerting much more of their breath, there’s going to be a situation where you might end up having the spread,” said Stephanie Smiley, the interim administrator for the state’s division of public health.

Smiley also said she also does not advise people to attend tournaments at this time.

Data collected by DHS show there are currently four active facility-wide workplace investigations in Columbia County. This data is specifically for non-health care workplaces and does not specify what workplaces are impacted. As of Wednesday, there have been eight total of these types of investigations reported in Columbia County.

A facility-wide public health investigation is initiated after “two or more cases within 28 days” happen at the same setting, according to Columbia County’s Division of Public Health. Workplace settings include manufacturing and production facilities, distribution facilities, offices and other indoor workplaces.

JustAgame is a sports facility that hosts several AAU tournaments every year. It is not linked to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which is the group that monitors high school sports in the state. WIAA guidelines for summer sports list basketball and volleyball as “moderate risk,” which limits gathering sizes indoors and outdoors to 50 people.

If you know of anyone who tested positive for coronavirus after participating or attending a sports tournament in Wisconsin, please email tips@channel3000.com.