The University of Washington has tested 119 student-athletes who have returned to campus for voluntary activities since June 15, and two tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesperson confirmed to The Times on Wednesday. He added that “those individuals are now going through our COVID-19 care and quarantine protocols.”
Last week, UW reported that 80 athletes had been tested and there were zero positive tests at that point.
The university declined to specifically name the athletes who tested positive to protect their privacy. According to UW’s phased return schedule, returning football players as well as athletes from men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball were slated to return the week of June 15. Incoming freshman football players and athletes from men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s rowing reportedly joined them this week.
Rob Scheidegger — UW’s associate athletic director for health and wellness, the football team’s head athletic trainer and head of the athletics department’s COVID-19 operations committee — told The Times this month that “having a positive COVID-19 test is definitely a part of our COVID-19 prevention plan.”
That plan states that, following a positive test, the university will first provide the student or staff member with appropriate health care. They’ll then be required to self-quarantine “for a length of time that our team physicians determine is appropriate to ensure that they’re not spreading viral illness amongst the rest of our athletes and staff,” Scheidegger said. UW will perform contact tracing and isolate “high contact” individuals as well.
“The team physician that’s managing those particular cases will make determinations on a case-by-case basis about how long that (isolation for high-contact individuals) needs to be, because everybody’s a little bit different. Every exposure is a little bit different,” Scheidegger said. “But we do have policies in place to help guide our physicians and make sure they’re making consistent decisions about what’s best for everyone’s health and wellness.”
Wednesday’s news comes after a slew of schools recently reported an alarming number of positive tests. At least 30 LSU football players were quarantined after either testing positive or coming into contact with someone who tested positive, Sports Illustrated reported last week. Clemson officials also confirmed on June 19 that 28 athletes or personnel, including 23 football players, had tested positive since returning to campus this month.
On Saturday, Kansas State suspended voluntary workouts for 14 days after 14 athletes tested positive. The University of Texas also announced last week that 13 football players had tested positive, and 10 more were self-quarantining following high-contact tracing.
As for other Pac-12 programs, Oregon State reported on June 22 that its first week of testing did not reveal any positive tests. Before returning to campus, 30 UCLA football players last week endorsed a document that demanded a “third-party health official” be on hand for all football activities to ensure that proper COVID-19 prevention measures are followed, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Currently, UW’s football program is scheduled to begin mandatory activities on July 13, with meetings and walk-throughs added on July 24. Fall camp will commence on Aug. 7 ahead of the season opener against Michigan inside Husky Stadium on Sept. 5.
At least, that’s the plan — though it seems increasingly less certain with each positive test. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN last week that “unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall.
“If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”