A youth football tournament held last weekend in Utah and Nevada was tied to seven COVID-19 cases on Maui and six on Oahu, and more infections are expected to emerge, state health officials said Friday.

The Pylon Mecca 7v7 tournament — a special invitational tournament that often results in college football scholarship opportunities — drew two Hawaii community league teams with players in high school, middle school, and 14-and-younger divisions.

A screenshot from a highlights video posted on YouTube captured a scene from the Pylon Mecca 7v7 tournament. 

The Department of Health’s disease investigation branch documented the first confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to the tournament on Wednesday and Thursday after people reported symptoms such as fevers and chills.

To avoid further spread, the health department asked all tournament attendees to get tested and to quarantine for at least 10 days after a confirmed exposure.

The cluster of infections managed to slip through Hawaii’s testing protocols for travelers.

Many of those affected took a test within the required 72-hour window prior to their flight home, but in some cases, they were tested before attending games.

The first attendees returned home Monday and more people are en route back to the islands, health department officials said Friday during a video press conference.

“Unfortunately in this case most of the testing was done prior to the tournament in order to be sure they could come home within those guidelines,” said Chantelle Matagi, lead contact tracer at the health department. “We want to make sure everyone knows we’re not pointing fingers and not blaming anyone, but we want to make sure we minimize exposure and contain it.”

The team that won the Pylon Mecca 7v7 national championship was fully rostered with Kahuku High School football players, according to Hawaii Prep World.

Most of the high school 2020 football season was canceled last year, Hawaii Prep World reported.

The news came as 118 new COVID-19 cases were recorded statewide Friday. Fourteen of those cases were on Maui and 84 on Oahu.

Hawaii saw an average of 83 new COVID-19 cases daily last week, and 1.5% of all people tested in the state had positive results.

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