Eight people associated with the MIHS wrestling program test positive for COVID-19

All individuals were fully vaccinated.

Eight people involved with the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) wrestling program recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

According to Ian Henry, communications coordinator for the Mercer Island School District, it is suspected that the six wrestlers, one coach and one parent — all of whom were fully vaccinated — contracted the virus through their participation and attendance at tournaments and matches held between Dec. 4-11.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all wrestling activities are on hold through December 26. All wrestlers and coaches will be required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test done over the weekend or by Tuesday, December 21,” said Henry, adding that the wrestlers began experiencing symptoms on Dec. 14-15 and are isolating at home.

MIHS matches during that timeframe included the Edmonds Invite, a match versus Liberty and the Larry Brown Tournament in Fife. A match versus Sammamish on Dec. 9 was canceled. The Dec. 17 matches versus Foster and Tyee at Hazen High are canceled, according to the KingCo site.

“Close contacts of the positive cases have been notified to get follow-up testing next week. At this time, we have no known additional cases of COVID-19 outside of this cohort of students,” Henry said.

As an example of the MIHS wrestling program exceeding safety recommendations, Henry said that head coach Lee Jahncke requires all student athletes to mask up during practices.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on Dec. 17 updated its K-12 Schools Requirements 2021-2022 in response to the recent sports-related COVID-19 outbreaks. Regardless of vaccination status, all athletes, coaches, trainers and supporting personnel in high-risk sporting activities — listed as basketball, wrestling, water polo and indoor cheer — are now required to have a screening testing.

“Further, the testing frequency has increased to 3 times weekly. Among those screening tests, at least one must occur no sooner than the day before the competition; ideally and whenever possible, the day of the event,” the update summary reads.

A missive sent by Public Health — Seattle & King County to all King County wrestling programs, athletic directors and school COVID-19 coordinators on Dec. 17 reads, in part, that if wrestling programs have positive COVID-19 cases, all wrestlers, staff and volunteers should promptly take either and antigen test or PCR/NAAT, regardless of vaccination status or being identified as a close contact.

Henry noted: “We are assessing the current situation and gathering information to make the safest and the best decision possible for the remainder of the wrestling season.”

Another Reporter story noted that the DOH, in collaboration with several local public health jurisdictions, is investigating multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 connected to several high school wrestling tournaments that took place on Dec. 4 in Lacey, Sumner, Puyallup and Yelm.

The number of cases linked to the events is estimated to be between 80 and 90, but as this investigation is ongoing, the total may change.

Counties that had high schools in attendance include Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima. A high school in Oregon also sent participants.