Two days after suspending workouts due to COVID-19, the entire Michigan State football program is headed into isolation.
Every member of the Michigan State football team will quarantine for the next 14 days after a player and a second team staff member tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the school announced on Friday.
“Based on early results from COVID-19 testing conducted over the last week on football staff and student-athletes, which included a second staff member and one student-athlete testing positive on Thursday, all members of the football team will quarantine or isolate, while awaiting completion of a 14-day quarantine,” the school said in a statement, via The Detroit News.
“As part of the athletic department’s return to campus policy, student-athletes quarantine when coming into close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. The university has designated areas available to house individuals in quarantine as needed based upon the living arrangements for student-athletes. Surveillance testing of student-athletes was completed on Wednesday, July 22 as previously planned, and will be repeated prior to clearance to return to workouts.”
There were more than 4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 145,000 deaths attributed to it. The country has averaged more than 65,000 new cases each day over the past week. Michigan had more than 84,500 total cases, and has averaged just more than 650 new cases each day over the past week.
Michigan State athletes returned to campus last month for voluntary workouts. As of last Friday, according to The Detroit Free Press, seven student athletes have tested positive. The football program, per the report, was nearly ready to begin its next phase in training, including group weightlifting sessions, walkthroughs and meetings.
Playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic
The Big Ten conference, along with the Pac-12, already announced that it will play conference-only schedules this fall due to the pandemic. Several conferences have already canceled fall sports altogether, too. The Pac-12 is expected to announce a 10-game, conference-only football schedule starting on Sept. 19 next week. The Big 12, ACC and SEC have yet to make any formal changes, though are expected to announce their plans by the end of the month.
Given how the pandemic is still raging throughout the country, there is a growing worry that the season will be scrapped across the board. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said earlier this month that he is “very concerned” about holding a season, too, but that the move to play a conference-only schedule was the “next logical step.”
Still, given both the close-contact nature of the sport and the environment on college campuses across the country, safely playing this fall could be quite the challenge.
“There’s got to be a breakthrough to play football,” a Group of Five coach told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel this week. “Realistically, it’s got to be treatment, vaccine or testing. It’s got to be accuracy of testing. To do it right, you have to be able to sweat on each other, blow your nose and pull your mouthpiece in and out at least 100 times a practice.”
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