HRC taking precautions as tournaments continue

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a news release Friday that two individuals who tested positive with COVID-19 were associated with a youth basketball tournament in Hays last weekend, and people who attended might have been exposed and should be aware of any symptoms.

On Thursday, the Ellis County Health Department issued a news release informing the public the local health department had been notified by KDHE that three persons who had tested positive for COVID-19 attended basketball tournaments in Hays and Wichita June 20-21. MAYB boys’ and girls’ tournaments in Hays were identified in that earlier news release. The local release said the three individuals who tested positive were not Ellis County residents.

In its Friday release, KDHE said the department and local health officials were investigating four clusters in the state connected to sports activities. The MAYB girls’ tournament in Hays and one in Wichita are under investigation. KDHE has confirmed two people associated with the tournament in Hays have tested positive for COVID-19.

In an online report by Wichita television station KWCH on Wednesday, the Cloud County Health Department warned that more than 150 people in the county might have been exposed to the coronavirus. Individuals who were exposed were close contacts of four positive cases in neighboring Republic County who had participated in sporting activities in Wichita and Hillsboro, in addition to Hays, the report said.

Hays Recreation Commission Superintendent Roger Bixenman said several tournaments are scheduled for Hays this summer. There is a youth fastpitch softball tournament in town this weekend with 85 teams participating. There are more youth baseball and softball tournaments scheduled next month.

Since the resumption of youth sports activities this month since state guidelines were lifted by the county, HRC staff still has continued to sanitize as best as possible the local sporting venues. Bixenman said benches and dugouts are sanitized and bleachers are spread farther apart. Sunflower seeds are prohibited. At the Hays Aquatic Park, safety measures have been implemented, including spacing apart lounge chairs to follow social distancing guidelines. At HRC gyms, bathrooms are cleaned once or twice a day.

“We’re doing extra cleaning at all of our facilities,” Bixenman said. “We’re still trying to provide that social distancing as much as possible.”

HRC has had to make adjustments with the spread of the coronavirus. Spring activities were shut down and summer events delayed. Youth practices started June 1 and games began last Monday. Some early youth and adult tournaments this summer had to be canceled.

“It’s good to get back to somewhat normal,” Bixenman said. “I’m not sure we’ll ever be normal again, but this will be the new normal for a while. Hopefully everybody can stay safe and use their best judgment.”