The NY Times recent coverage of a ‘mysterious’ illness sweeping through the U.S. Open in Forest Hills, NY is surreal. Here’s a taste (boldface mine):
Jabeur, who reached the U.S. Open final last year, is among several players who have had to contend with an illness of some sort at this year’s tournament.
Dominic Thiem of Austria retired in the second set of his second-round match, doubled over at the net with what appeared to be a stomach-related issue. Emil Ruusuvuori withdrew from the tournament before his first-round match, citing an unspecified illness. Tennys Sandgren, who failed to advance out of the qualifiers, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he became ill after returning home from the tournament.
“I got the us open bug,” he said in a separate post, adding, “in a way still feels like I’m in the tournament but at home.”
It’s not just players. The ESPN commentator John McEnroe said on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus after feeling unwell.
It is unclear whether all of the players have the same illness, or whether their cases are connected, but something has been going around the U.S. Open.
Hubert Hurkacz seemed to struggle during his second-round match on Thursday, when he was upset by Jack Draper of Britain. During the match, medical staff came out to treat Hurkacz for what did not appear to be a physical injury. Around the tennis grounds, sniffles and coughs can be heard, and some players have been toting tissues in their bags.
The string of illnesses comes as a late-summer wave of coronavirus infections has been reported across the United States, with indications of a rise in cases in the Northeast and in the West.
Illnesses are possible at any tournament, where players are often in close quarters and share facilities. But with players no longer required to test for Covid-19, it is difficult to determine the cause of the illnesses among them.
While I think too many things are attributed to COVID–many diseases have similar symptoms–it’s pretty obvious this is COVID. In New York City, wastewater COVID level suggest COVID prevalence is near the Jan. 2023 peak. 75 miles up I-95, between August 29-31, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the president of Yale University (New Haven, CT), and the mayor of New Haven all announced they had COVID. Sure, there could be an unknown non-COVID virus sweeping through the U.S. Open and MacEnroe also just happened to get COVID. Of course, someone could just test the players.
But it’s a mystery!