Big weekend MAYB tournament still on in Wichita after confirmed COVID-19 cases
Despite new cases of COVID-19 linked to youth basketball tournaments in Kansas, another MAYB tournament is still on tap for the weekend, expected to bring 4,000 players from surrounding states, representing 400 teams to Wichita.
Eyewitness News Thursday afternoon spoke with the tournament director who says games will go on as planned.
MAYB President Greg Raleigh, whose been organizing the big Wichita-area tournament -- The Summer Kickoff -- for 28 years says he knows the concerns that are out there and he wants to make sure people know steps are being taken to try to put on the tournament safely.
"I feel like we're ready to go and the teams have (been) notified of things I think they need to know," Raleigh said.
He said he knows the concerns COVID-19 presents to tournaments like the MAYB Summer Kickoff, especially after positive cases from Cloud County in north-central Kansas, but he says they've taken necessary steps to put on a safe tournament.
"Everything from a temperature check to you know, making sure we're cleaning things after each game," Raleigh said. But like, when you look around out here, we take all the bleachers out, so people bring in lawn chairs and things to help socially distance. "We're asking people to only show up for their games. I think that's one of the biggest things to limit large gatherings."
Coaches and parents who will be a part of the tournament say they have some concerns, but are mostly worried about teams coming in from out of state.
"We've avoided any travel up until this point, not only as a team, but as a family," said Scott Evans coach of the Kansas Defenders and father of one of the players. "Because we want to avoid cross-contaminating with what we've been exposed to in Wichita with what others have been exposed to in other parts of the country."
Tulsa Hawks coach Evan Drake said "there's no perfect way to do it," and he hopes other teams are taking precautions and are trying to be as safe as possible.
Raleigh said all of the facilities hosting games this weekend have guidelines in place.
"And we're trying to do the best we can to keep the environment safe, but yet give kids the opportunity to play," he said.
With potentially thousands of athletes and their families coming to Wichita, Sedgwick County does have the legal authority to stop such an event, but county leaders say they have no plans to do that.
Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said at this time, it's up to the people directly involved with the tournament.
"The more travel you have, the larger the event, the more risk clearly. So sure, we are concerned about it, but as of today, we have no regulation to prohibit that from happening," Stolz said. "We're just hoping everyone uses their best judgment on this."
Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said even though the risk is there, he trusts the organization and the families to do the best they can.
Stolz said if cases do come from the MAYB tournament this weekend, the county will take the same measures it's taken with everything else.
"If somebody gets tested positive, we'll do what we always do. We'll track trace it," Stolz said. "That is a very difficult track trace. We have a lot of people we have to notify. That's the risk when you have these large events with that many people coming through. It's a challenge for us in the back end."
Governor Laura Kelly released the following statement regarding positive cases possibly linked to another recent tournament in Kansas:
While there are several positive aspects health officials cite with youth sports, including social and emotional development and building resilience, Dr. Paul Teran with the KU School of Medicine - Wichita said COVID-19 brings a situation where competitive athletic tournaments could do more harm than good.
"It makes it near impossible to contact trace with all the people who were at that, especially when you're going between counties and between states," Dr. Teran said.
Thursday, health departments in Ellis and Lyon County put out notices to their communities for potential exposure to COVID-19 related to different sports tournaments.
The Ellis County notice concerned a basketball tournament in the state while the Lyon County notice concerned a baseball tournament in Missouri.
"As much as we can, I think we should avoid all competitions with teams from different geographical areas," Dr. Teran said.
He said it also depends on the sport.
"We should try to avoid those high-risk sports as much as possible at this time," he said, referring to a
"There's some of them this moderate risk kind of profile, and those we should probably avoid unless we are able to find modifying factors."
High-risk sports include football and wrestling. The moderate category includes basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball.
Dr. Teran said, "High schoolers and teenagers who are playing sports, you’ll see that maybe they won’t get that sick but they’ll spread it to other people in their family or be in contact with other people in the community."
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is notifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if they attended a pair of MAYB basketball tournaments last weekend.
The Ellis County Health Department said it was notified by KDHE that three people who attended the tournaments in Hays and Wichita on June 20-21 have tested for COVID-19.
Hays Recreation Commission
June 20: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
June 21: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hays Recreation Commission
June 21: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wichita Sports Forum
June 20: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
June 21: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Anyone who attended any of the tournaments during the identified days and times are encouraged to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 until 14 days after exposure (July 4 or 5).
Those symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, diarrhea, and/or shortness of breath/difficulty breathing. If symptoms develop, isolate immediately and contact your health care provider.
Anyone determined to be a close contact of the positive cases will be notified by KDHE and mandated to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact.
Ellis County said the positive cases are not residents.