The Civic Center Outbreak: The Impact for Three Athletes

The Civic Center outbreak started on the night of Friday, October 2, at a men’s league ice hockey game. A VTDigger article reported the rumor in Central Vermont, that the spread was “caused by a non-masked person who lied about his travel,” according to someone posting on Facebook who was “associated with the outbreak.” 


The actions of this one person had a ripple effect, impacting the lives of many Central Vermonters who had been following the safety protocols. Over the next days and weeks, people contracted the virus without knowing it, leading to the community spread of Covid-19.    


Cece Curtin, a senior at Montpelier High School, has felt the impact of the Covid outbreak at the Civic Center.  father was exposed to someone with Covid-19 at a men’s league hockey game the Monday after the outbreak started.  Even though Cece and her father both followed the regulations put in place by the government, wearing masks, they got the Coronavirus. 


Her family went to Clear Choice Health Clinic to get tested after her father tested positive for the Coronavirus.  


“A woman in a hazmat suit came into the room to announce the results,” Cece remembered.


She had a quick sigh of relief then the woman announced that the rest of the Curtin family was negative for Covid-19, except for Cece. 


“I was upset, there is a lot we don’t know about the virus,” she said. “It’s nerve-racking when you don’t know what’s going on in your body. It’s pretty scary.”


Cece had no symptoms when she had Covid-19. She had to quarantine for many weeks. She said she hadn’t realized how much time and how many events she missed while trying to keep others safe. 


Cece is a three-season athlete. This fall she played field hockey and had to miss out on her last few senior games due to testing positive for Covid-19.

“It was really upsetting, definitely sad,” she said. “It was really unfortunate that I missed those last games”. 


“I feel it’s not fair, people definitely should hold themselves more accountable,” she said. 


“I wish people understood and could really see the impact of what they did to others and how their ignorance affected so many.”


Emilie Connor is a mother of two young children and a physical therapist who plays broomball twice a week at the Civic Center. Everyone on Emilie’s team was doing the right thing by wearing masks. The potential exposure to Covid-19 came after an infected player played against Emilie’s team on the Sunday night after the initial outbreak on October 2nd. 

When she learned of the exposure her mind raced, knowing that the virus spreads exponentially. 


“Immediately I started doing the math and figuring out who I have had close contact with,” she said. “It’s pretty terrifying!” 


As a result of the outbreak, the rink closed down for several weeks. Emilie said that the rink did a great job and stepped up to meet the concerns of the community, adding more cleaning and safety protocols than before.


When the Civic Center story started to become a public health concern, Emile started to lose clients. Some of Emilie’s clients are elderly and high-risk individuals who knew Emilie spent time at the rink and were uncomfortable visiting her after the outbreak.


Emilie contemplated if it was the right decision to go back to her broomball leagues. After much thought, she felt it was in the best interest to return to the Civic Center, for her wellbeing and her desire to help support a local rink. 


“Only you can control yourself and your own actions,” Emilie said. “You have no control over anyone else’s actions.”


Jake Lavigne was in a mountain biking accident in sixth grade which left him paralyzed from the chest down. Jake does not let his disability define who he is. He is very involved in adaptive sports. 


Jake’s team, the Central Vermont Pioneers, practiced the Sunday after the outbreak started. At the time Jake and his teammates did not know what was going on. The practice was normal that afternoon.

Five days later Jake received an email from the rink manager, the Central Vermont Civic Center Ice Rink would be closed due to Covid-19 exposure.


His team has a lot of different types of physical disabilities. Most of his teammates are high-risk individuals. If one tested positive for the Coronavirus it would be really difficult for them to recover from it. 


None of Jake’s teammates got the Coronavirus. He and his teammates never got exposed to Covid-19 as far as they are aware of. They didn’t get the call the other groups did saying that they had been potentially exposed. 


“I think we got pretty lucky.” Jake said, considering “how dangerous this Covid virus really is.”


For Jake, sled hockey is more than just a sport. He looks forward to practicing every week.


“My favorite part of participating in sled hockey is the camaraderie with my teammates and opposing players,” Jake said. “Not having those interactions makes me feel like an aspect of my life is missing.”  


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