Goldpanner player returns home after positive Covid test; leaves the team

Goldpanner player returns home after positive Covid test; leaves the team

A former member of this year’s Alaska Goldpanner team returned home to Utah on Sunday evening after testing positive for Covid-19. The player chose to leave the squad on his own and the team were not aware of his positive test until after he left.

Goldpanners general manager John Lohrke did not identify the player in question but said the player in question was tested on Sunday. The player’s test results did not return until Monday morning, when the player informed the team that he was returning home to Utah. The player is not an employee of the team and is a legal adult, rendering the organization unable to prevent him from traveling.

According to Lohrke, the player already knew he had Covid-19 after being tested outside the organization. The player never informed the team of his positive test and Lohrke was only informed after his departure by the player’s team mother.

“We found out that he had already tested without our knowledge,” Lohrke said. “What we found (when we tested it) was the same result, obviously. Once he tested himself, he set the wheels in motion to get out of here after conversations with his father and family. He told us he didn’t come home until four days after school, so it was kind of his way out. It was kind of his way home. He didn’t really say much to the team and it was clear he wanted to go home.

“He had mentioned being in touch with his family and the next thing we know we get into the evening hours he has a midnight flight and he’s heading to the airport. It was completely something the team hadn’t run at all. He did it on his own with the advice of his parents and that’s it. He took the matter in hand without us being able to do anything about it and I don’t know if we could have. I don’t know if I can detain a 19 year old adult.

The Goldpanners announced on Monday that their game that night had been called off without any explanation. The team announced on Tuesday that they will also cancel Tuesday’s game and that both games have been called off due to several players who tested positive for Covid-19. Lohrke said the majority of Monday was spent communicating with health officials, team medics, team parents and others.

Alaska does not require travelers to be tested for Covid-19. The CDC recommends that those who have recently tested positive for Covid-19 not to travel.

After hearing news of the positive tests on Monday, Lohrke said the team followed all proper procedural guidelines.

“We jumped on day one and had a Zoom meeting with over fifty people,” he said. “It involved the whole team, the coaching staff, Dr (Carey) Keller, Christine from Foundation Health, Dr Carey, our two coaches, the summer parents, the families of the lower 48 players. We had a two hour and forty-five minute Zoom meeting time to get our hands on this. We have completely taken the lead in the medical community and approached it the right way. Anyone who’s going to do anything different than someone who thinks we’ve approached this from a baseball perspective rather than a medical perspective is completely irrelevant.

Neither the Alaska Baseball League nor the Goldpanners require their players to be vaccinated. Lohrke said about half of Goldpanners have been vaccinated by this time.

“Once we get past that period where the doctors tell us ‘they’re out the window, so go ahead and get more kids vaccinated,’ I don’t think we’re going to have a lot of resistance,” Lohrke said.

The Goldpanners face the Everett Merchants Sunday night at 5 p.m. Monday’s Midnight Sun game is still going as planned and will start at 10pm. Lohrke said he expects the roster to be full for this game.

Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at


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