The announcement Friday that Carver County is in the midst of an outbreak of the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant of COVID-19 has prompted some school districts and local businesses to pause certain activities.
The Minnesota Department of Health said COVID cases in the southwest metro county have risen 62% between Feb. 24 and Mar. 4 and that the outbreak was "rapidly growing," with at least 68 cases linked to participants in school-sponsored and club sports activities.
These cases in turn have led to transmission at local gyms and fitness centers, prompting MDH to recommend a "county-wide pause" of youth sports for two weeks, as well as calling on school districts to consider pausing extracurricular activities, and for gyms to actively screen its employees and strictly enforce mask-wearing.
Eastern Carver County School District announced Friday that due to how close it is to the end of the winter sports season, it would allow its varsity teams at Chaska and Chanhassen to continue playing with additional mitigation measures and spectator restrictions in place.
All non-varsity winter sports however will pause practice and games, while all in-person extracurriculars, off-season sports practices and workouts, and youth community education classes have been paused.
Waconia Schools has taken a similar measure, with "only varsity teams cleared of COVID" allowed to play, with no fans allowed at home games. The district is currently on spring break, but on Saturday it announced to parents that other youth sports will be paused for a week at a time.
Some businesses involved in fitness and sports are paring back their own services in the county during the outbreak.
Foss Swim Schools announced that the classes at Chanhassen school will pause for two weeks starting Monday, while Chaska Community Center announced it too will be pausing its in-person activities for two weeks.
MDH says it has so far confirmed 24 cases of the B.1.1.7. COVID variant in Carver County, with a further 18 cases currently undergoing testing.
The department said that the outbreak impacted "athletes, coaches, students and household contacts" across multiple schools, with a number of those with the virus continuing to attend school or sporting activities while infectious.