COVID-19 concerns amid national volleyball tournament in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – People from 24 states across the nation are in Huntsville this week for the 2020 USA National Beach Tour Junior Championship, a premier volleyball tournament.

WHNT News 19 had a Huntsville resident reach out with concerns about the lack of social distancing and the possible spread of COVID-19 at such a large event.

Lisa Powers played volleyball in college and that’s what drew her to come watch the tournament at John Hunt Park on Tuesday.

“I live in south Huntsville, I try to support things that happen in the community,” says Powers.

But when she got there, she says she was appalled at how many people weren’t following the state mask order or health guidelines.

“We noticed there was tailgating going on in the parking lot there were no masks no gloves. Parents were in the bleachers, they were congregating on the sidewalks, they were around the volleyball courts,” says Powers.

The Huntsville Sports Commission shared with us a three-page COVID-19 guideline for safety and health precautions during the event, but say they can’t control what people are doing outside of the facility. Powers says what she saw is inexcusable.

“Once here and seeing what was going on…. The sheer hypocrisy from the mayor and the governor of this being such a crucial life or death situation that they brought to the state which will then negatively impact Alabamians,” says Powers.

Over 300 teams from 24 different states are in Huntsville competing in the 2020 USA National Beach Tour Junior Championship. The championship is bringing in more than $700,000 to the city.

“This tournament is supposedly bringing revenue to the state and to the city of Huntsville it’s been allowed to happen. Well, these people won’t stay at John Hunt Park. They’re going to go into our hotels and go into our restaurants. If there was no quarantine period, there was no way to know what was being brought from other states,” says Powers.

While at the volleyball courts on Wednesday, the announcer reminded people through a loudspeaker to keep their masks on, several times. Powers says that wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

A group of men I spoke with from Mississippi were unfamiliar with the specifics of Alabama’s mask order but say they believe Huntsville is being very diligent about reminding people to wear masks and social distance.

The tournament will go through this week and end on Sunday.

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