Five high school hockey teams in eastern and northern Maine are under quarantine this week because of positive COVID-19 tests.
All of the cases and subsequent contract tracing are tied to games played at Sawyer Arena in Bangor. None of the teams will be able to resume practicing until next week.
Bangor High School reportedly had at least two cases and Old Town-Orono and John Bapst of Bangor had one each, so those teams went into 10-day quarantines along with Brewer and Presque Isle.
Bangor played John Bapst and Old Town-Orono faced off against Presque Isle last Saturday at Sawyer Arena. Brewer had taken on Bangor in a Feb. 3 game, also in Bangor.
Brewer High athletic administrator Dave Utterback said he was informed on Tuesday that his team must undergo contact tracing stemming from that game, during which personnel may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Brewer’s 10-day quarantine period started on Feb. 3 as no members of the hockey program have reported any coronavirus symptoms. The Witches could have returned to the ice this weekend, but won’t start practicing again until Monday.
The Maine Principals’ Association does not allow high school teams to practice or play on Sundays.
Bangor, Old Town-Orono, Presque Isle and John Bapst may resume team activities on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
In all cases, team members and coaches cannot return to the ice if they have experienced any coronavirus symptoms.
Joe Nelson, the rink manager at Sawyer Arena, said he believes some area youth teams also have been impacted by COVID-19, since they have canceled practices until Feb. 17.
The quarantine period for someone exposed to an individual infected with COVID-19 was previously 14 days. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention now suggests the reduced period of 10 days recommended by the U.S. CDC.
Dr. Carl Flynn, the Presque Isle High School hockey coach, has been on the front line dealing with coronavirus cases. He said the Maine CDC recommends that individuals who are exposed to an infected person be tested for the coronavirus, but that is not required.
However, those people still have to quarantine for 10 days.
Each school district can implement its own safety protocols, which may be more stringent than Maine CDC guidelines.
Jeremy Bousquet, the athletic administrator at Old Town High School, said players and coaches who potentially were exposed to COVID-19 can return after the 10-day quarantine only if they have a negative test and don’t exhibit any symptoms.
“If they don’t want to be tested, they have to quarantine for 14 days,” he said.
Bousquet said the recommendation is that individuals be tested five to seven days after the exposure.
“It’s out of precaution for the safety of our student-athletes,” he said.
The athletic directors said the players and staff involved with their hockey programs have done an exemplary job following the Maine CDC guidelines.
Utterback and Bousquet said they will try to make up the games they lose during the quarantine period.