ST. GEORGE — The city of St. George has commented after a participant at the USA Preps Summer Nationals softball tournament in St. George this weekend tested positive for COVID-19, prompting cancellation of part of the competition.
The organizers of the tournament have also released an additional statement to St. George News, claiming the player took a second test and was found to be negative for the virus.
On Saturday afternoon, the City of St. George released the following statement:
“Our staff has noticed that those involved in this tournament have been, for the most part, doing a good job following protocol set forth by the state of Utah’s Department of Health for this event,” city spokesperson David Cordero said. “We appreciate the responsibility and action taken by USA Preps during their tournament.”
USA Preps released a statement on the positive test results on Saturday as well, making it known that the athlete had been tested for COVID-19, was waiting on the results and traveled to St. George for the tournament before the results came back.
On Friday, those results came back positive.
“It was brought to our attention yesterday (Friday) that a parent made a very irresponsible decision to bring their child to our event while awaiting the results of a COVID test,” a written statement from USA Preps said. “Upon hearing this news, we immediately made the decision to shut down the Archie Gubler Complex for the remainder of the weekend. While the player in question only played in four games, we felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved to immediately remove the 24 teams along with any umpires, college coaches and staff that were at that complex. Our schedule ensures that teams remain at the same complex all week and anyone at the Archie Gubler Complex did not have any interaction with the other teams at this event.”
USA Preps released an additional statement late Saturday to St. George News, stating the player had now tested negative for the virus.
“The player who received a positive test result yesterday (Friday), prompting us to shut down the Archie Gubler Complex, was re-tested today and received notice of a negative result,” the statement read. “The initial test was a FREE test conducted by her local county and took several days for the false positive. Today’s test was paid for at her local clinic and the results were expedited and confirmed to be negative. We stand by our decision to shut down the complex for the health and safety of everyone involved. We hope this new test result provides everyone with a bit of comfort moving forward.”
It is unclear how the player got such a quick turnaround on a test that commonly takes between 24 hours to seven days to get a result back, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There is a test, known as an antigen test, recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration, that has a quicker turnaround but that test is available at limited sites.
The statement also states a difference between a “free” test and one that is not. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security acts, it is federal law that all coronavirus tests administered in the United States are free of charge.
USA Preps also said that the strict guidelines they had set will protect the teams removed from the tournament as well as the remaining teams who will finish the tournament on Sunday. USA Preps pointed out that players are required to wear masks while off the field, the softballs are sanitized every half inning and the dugouts have been sanitized after every game.
The guidelines on the USA Preps website were also laid out prior to the tournament. These included face masks for attendees even when six feet apart, the teams were asked to limit spectators to five per day, players were asked to use the bleachers as an extension of the dugout and players were asked to keep social distancing when off of the field.
When St. George News attended the games going on at the Little Valley fields, there were some people abiding by the rules. These included seating behind the outfield fences, social distancing and wearing masks.
There were also people not abiding by the rules laid out by the tournament.
There were some groupings of people who were not wearing masks and keeping social distance while others were sitting in the grandstands, which were supposed to be reserved for the athletes when not on the field.
For the athletes, of the eight teams playing on the four fields when St. George News was there, only one team had masks on while in the dugouts and there was limited social distancing while off the field. There was one more team that had masks on them, but the masks were under their chin, leaving their face fully exposed.
“The irresponsible actions of one set of parents is not a reflection of USA Preps,” the USA Preps statement said. “We will continue to adhere to our strict safety protocols and put the safety of all attendees and the local community as our number one priority.”
St. George News weekend editor/reporter Chris Reed contributed to this story.
Updated July 19, 11:30 a.m.: Additional statement by USA Preps saying the player has re-tested negative for the virus.
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