A single tournament could lead to a big COVID-19 breakout

RachelAnn Degnan, Senior Reporter

A basketball tournament held in Okanogan county has led to several COVID-19 cases that have affected some Kittitas County Residents. Gov. Jay Inslee’s phase 1 and phase 2 to Washington’s Roadmap to Recovery allows a certain amount of athletic events, but forbids any tournaments because of the number of participants in close proximity. 

On Feb 6., a private basketball tournament was held in Okanogan county, and six residents of that county later tested positive. Okanogan County Public Health immediately began investigating and learned of the private tournament’s existence. 

The Community Health Director for Okanogan County Public Health, Lauri Jones, confirmed the six cases early Feb. 18. Jones later added that 11 positive cases in Kittitas county had been traced back to the tournament. 

Okanogan County is in the North Central region and has a population of about 42,000 people. During the tournament, the county was in phase 1 and had not yet been approved to move into phase 2. 

The tournament was held in Pateros and the four teams that participated were from Kittitas, Cashmere, Cle Elum and Brewster. There is no current information about how many people attended the tournament. 

Okanogan County has seen some rises in positive COVID-19 cases over the last few months. Jones told NCWlife.com that the tournament’s impact is greater than it seems.

“It’s frustrating when these organizers are doing this,” Jones said. “This affects more than just that team. That affects the kids’ ability to stay in school, and we’re working hard to keep our schools open. It affects their parents’ ability to work.”

Jones is encouraging anyone that was in attendance at the game to get tested and quarantine right away. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to present themselves after being exposed.