Of the 221 COVID-19 tests performed on student-athletes as Michigan began its reintroduction of athletes on campus, two came back positive. The univeristy did not reveal which sport those athletes play, but for now only men’s basketball, women's basketball and football athletes are allowed back on campus.
“To date we’ve performed 221 tests, and we’ve had 2 positive results on student-athletes,” head team physician Dr. Sami Rifat said in a Zoom conference Thursday. “Both of those individuals were completely asymptomatic at the time of the testing. None of our staff have tested positive to date.”
Those numbers align with the percentage of cases in Washtenaw county, which is hovering at around 0.46 percent of the population.
“We know from our local hospitals that screen everybody that’s coming in for procedures that they’re coming in at about 1 percent,” Rifat said. “So in our community here. So we kind of expect that to be the number that we see and right now we’re just about at that number.”
The news comes as other universities around the country recall their athletes for voluntary workouts, with Texas reporting 13 of its football players tested positive. The tests are a part of Michigan’s move towards allowing athletes back on campus and were caught prior to any use of athletic facilities.
As a part of the athletic department’s plan to limit and react to positive tests, the university will cooperate with Washtenaw county’s Environmental Health and Safety department on implementing contact-tracing within campus. For now, they will not be using any contact-tracing apps, but officials emphasized the fluidity of the situation.
Should an individual test positive outside of their initial test and quarantine upon return to campus, the athletic department will work to quarantine that individual and any close-or-immediate contacts until they are no longer contagious.
“They will be contacted by a slew of people on a daily basis,” senior associate athletic director Darryl Conway said on the same Zoom call. “Their athletic trainer will check in on them every single day. The team dietitian will check in with them. Their academic counselor will check in with them to make sure they’re staying up from an academic stand point. And then we’ll do everything we can to address their mental health, so our athletic counselors will also check in with them to make sure their mental health is being addressed.”
Additionally, Conway noted, the University has established a network of communication between coaches, players, trainers and administration should any player test positive in order to keep every person as informed as possible.
As more student-athletes return to campus, more will test positive for COVID-19. Michigan hopes the protocols it’s taken will not only prevent the introduction of the virus into its athletic spaces, but will halt its spread should an already-introduced athlete contract it through open communication with campus, teams and player personnel.