Pateros basketball tourney leads to COVID-19 outbreak

Regional Basketball

PATEROS — A youth basketball tournament held in Pateros Feb. 6 has become the epicenter for new COVID-19 infections in multiple counties, the Okanogan County Public Health agency reports.

County health director Lauri Jones says six people in Okanogan County were infected and multiple others were likely exposed. The outbreak involves residents of Okanogan, Chelan and Kittitas County. Anyone who attended the tournament may have been exposed and should be tested for the pandemic coronavirus.

The event took place at a private facility and apparently was organized for female players of high school age or younger, Jones said.

“This was not a school-sanctioned event. I want to make that clear. However, on Feb. 6, we were all in Phase 1.”

Phase 1 of Washington’s pandemic restrictions meant competitive sports events like basketball were barred. As a sport categorized as a high risk for COVID-19 transmission, competitive basketball is still off-limits in the current Phase 2; only practice and training is allowed, and tournaments of all kinds remain prohibited.

Jones said four teams were involved in the tournament, hailing from the towns of Cashmere, Cle Elum and Brewster, as well as Kittitas County. Chelan-Douglas Health District communications director Veronica Farias said Thursday morning her agency was still gathering information about infections or exposures in the Wenatchee Valley from the event.

“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.”