As sports teams face COVID outbreaks, Duke doctor says ‘we need to remain pretty adaptable’


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – PNC Arena was open to a packed crowd Wednesday night.

The same thing is likely to happen Thursday night. The Carolina Hurricanes are scheduled to return to the ice after a COVID-19 outbreak amongst players caused a slight hiccup in their season.

Their game at Minnesota Tuesday was postponed. Six players from the Hurricanes tested positive for COVID-19.

“I think what omicron has done is that it has put us back a step. I think our ability to use contract tracing as a real vehicle to slow down transmission seems to be weaker at the moment. So, teams are having to re-adjust,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe explained.

Wolfe works with Duke Health. He said what’s been seen this week in the sports world, from the NBA to the NFL to college, has been a perfect example of that.

Wednesday, Duke University announced that its men’s basketball game this Saturday against Cleveland State University was canceled after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Cleveland State program.

The UNC-Chapel Hill women’s basketball team canceled its game Wednesday night after virus issues with Jacksonville State University.

“I think if there’s a lesson here, not just in sports, but in the community in general, that we have had to learn the hard way is that we need to remain pretty adaptable. This is a virus and a pandemic that has changed,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said this means reassessing mitigation efforts.

Tuesday, Shaw University announced it is limiting capacity to just students, game staff, and those on a pass list for games at its gym.

“I think the reality is we do need to stay adaptable. This is not going away. This is not a new normal. It can’t be a new normal yet when we still have lots of people dying and lots of hospitals really full,” Wolfe said.

As for fans, Wolfe said those who have been vaccinated, got a booster, and wear a mask are at the least risk.

He also said anyone who is feeling sick shouldn’t go to large gatherings.

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