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Variant Spreading Among Youth Sports in Minnesota

Andy Berg

A Minnesota basketball coach is recovering from a severe case of COVID-19, with state health officials in Carver County reporting that a variant appears to be spreading among youth sports participants.

Brandt Vettel, a freshman basketball coach for Chanhassen High School, took a turn for the worse just days after this 50th birthday. His wife told the local NBC affiliate that he contacted the school after he came down with chills, body aches and a tickle in his throat.

"I don't know anyone really who loves basketball more than my husband," said Kari Vettel. "I'm sure he got it playing, you know, coaching basketball. Really, we don't go anywhere."

Brandt was able to come home from the hospital Monday night.

Since late January, the Minnesota Department of Health has linked 68 cases to school and club sports and gyms in Carver County. 

In a news release reported by NBC, the Minnesota Department of Health listed some of the impacted sports as hockey, wrestling, basketball and alpine skiing. Some of the cases are also the more contagious variant originally found in the United Kingdom.

MDH recommended starting a two-week, county-wide pause on all youth sports.

"People are frustrated, but that won't help us if we don't act," said Kari Vettel, who's also a physician assistant and treats COVID patients at Glencoe Regional Health. "We have an outbreak and we need to act or we might have an outbreak that’s worse."

Some games in Carver County were canceled over the weekend, but Eastern Carver County schools said their varsity games would continue as planned with spectator restrictions in place. 

Kari Vettel hopes that everyone stays safe. 

"We understand how many kids really benefit from high school athletics and how you benefit from being on a team and how emotionally and physically that helps you to grow as an individual," she said, noting her husband wouldn't want to take that away from kids. "He does not blame any kids or anybody for getting sick and that said, I don’t either. I just don’t want to see any other family not do well with this virus."

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