Illustration depicting the coronavirus, revealing the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

State Investigating COVID-19 Outbreak Linked to Wrestling Meets, County Ramps Up Vaccine Availability

by Sally James

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating more than 80 cases of COVID-19 linked to four wrestling competitions across the state. Some of the cases included the new variant omicron.

In a news release, the DOH named these four tournaments as being linked to the spread of the virus:

  • John Birbeck Invitational in Lacey, WA.
  • Ed Arima Duals in Sumner, WA.
  • Lady Jags Kickoff Tournament in Puyallup, WA.
  • Yelm Girls Varsity in Yelm, WA.

Counties that had high school(s) in attendance include Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom, and Yakima. A high school in Oregon also sent participants.

At a separate livestream press event, Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) chief Jeff Duchin said that three of the cases had definitely been linked to the new variant omicron, which is rapidly spreading across the United States.

The State and local health authorities are in the midst of investigating the wrestling outbreak and will be giving schools advice. DOH recommends anyone who attended these events, even as a spectator, be aware of symptoms and get tested for COVID-19.

In other news related to testing, Duchin said that (PHSKC) was going to distribute some free rapid tests for COVID-19 in South Seattle and south King County through community partner organizations. Rapid tests are also called antigen tests and are not quite as accurate as the PCR tests that take a day or so for results.

Duchin said the County has increased vaccine delivery capacity by half in the past month, delivering about 100,000 vaccinations per week at 18 sites, pharmacies, community health and primary care locations in the county. 

The largest site at the Auburn Mall sees about 600 people daily and will expand its operation from five days per week to seven days per week. 

He said despite those measures, demand for vaccine is exceeding available appointments. 

He also said a new pop-up vaccine site, “basically a vaccination clinic on wheels,” operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency would open soon in Federal Way and then move to Auburn. The site will provide over 500 vaccination appointments per day.

County officials said other efforts include the University of Washington (UW) adding 10,000 appointments by the end of the year and the City of Seattle site in South Lake Union more than doubling their appointments this past weekend; the County is working closely with UW and

Bellevue College to match pharmacy and nursing students with vaccine sites as well as working with medical associations to find additional vaccinators.

Duchin encouraged people to get on vaccination appointment wait lists as soon as possible through their health provider or to find appointments at the State’s online vaccine locator or the County’s vaccine information page. Here’s the City of Seattle’s vaccine sites including the South End’s SouthEast Seattle Senior Center, 4655 S Holly St., Seattle, WA 98118, open most Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Sally James is a science writer in Seattle. You can read more of her work at She’s written about biotech, cancer research, and health literacy and volunteered as president of the nonprofit Northwest Science Writers Association.

📸 Featured image by CDC on Unsplash.

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