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Summer league reports virus case

Player took part in Wednesday game; tested positive later

A player in a Lakemont Park Summer Basketball League game on Wednesday has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The player received the test result late Wednesday and informed league operator Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission on Thursday morning, CBRC Executive Director Mike Hofer said.

The league has informed staffers who could have been exposed to the virus and the captains of the teams that played in that game and the one that followed on the same court, telling the captains they needed to inform other members of their teams, Hofer said Thursday afternoon.

“We’re trying to follow all the recommendations,” Hofer said, adding that he’s putting together a plan “to move forward” with help from his staff, the commission board, its solicitor and park management.

The commission expects to resume play Monday, when the next game is scheduled, Hofer said.

Hofer declined to name the player, citing medical privacy law, and declined to name the team on which he played.

The player was in the game for about 10 minutes and apparently had no symptoms, Hofer said.

He doesn’t know why the player got tested, Hofer said.

Commission Chairman Matt Cacciotti heard that the player first felt ill a few hours after the game, then got tested and received the results quickly — but he emphasized that his knowledge wasn’t authoritative.

Hofer wasn’t sure how many other players were in the game in which the infected player participated, or in the next game on the same court.

“It’s unfortunate it happened,” Lakemont Park President Andrea Cohen said. “(But) the Rec Commission did everything correctly.”

That included sanitizing the basketballs and surfaces near the court, providing hand sanitizer and posting signs with instructions, according to Cohen and Cacciotti.

Hofer had outlined the rules at a players’ meeting, Cohen said, before league began play on Monday.

Sports, including basketball, are permitted in the green phase of the state’s reopening, with various restrictions, according to the state Department of Health website.

“No one’s making these decisions alone,” Cohen said.

Because of the positive case, the league plans to “beef up” the existing protections, including additional emphasis on sanitizer.

“(Except that) we’re kind of doing everything we can right now,” Cacciotti said.

Asked what the commission is obligated to do, commission solicitor Dan Stants declined to say, citing attorney-client privilege.

Asked the same question, the Department of Health didn’t get back to the Mirror on Thursday evening.

Mike Luciano, who plays on one team and sponsors another, was “somewhat surprised” when the league announced that play would take place this summer.

Yet “it was a good thing,” Luciano said. “They worked hard to get this done.”

Now he’s not sure he’ll play next week, especially given that he’s planning to attend a family wedding soon and runs a bar in Fairview.

In Altoona, in a county with a total of 55 cases, people were feeling “pretty safe,” Luciano said.

Now, “it’s a little scary,” he said.

He recalled Dr. Anthony Fauci saying at the start of the pandemic that basketball would be too risky then.

It’s a physical sport with people leaning on one another, pushing one another, sweating and breathing on one another, Luciano said.

“You don’t want to see 255 (cases in Blair),” he said. “It can turn on a dime.”

He doesn’t want to be one of those people who are afraid to do anything, but he listens to the experts, he said.

The DoH has emphasized in recent weeks that it has been creating a network of contact tracers to snuff out potential outbreaks.

“We’ll see how all this plays out,” Cacciotti said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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