College Football COVID Testing Results All Over the Map

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As schools across the country prepare for the return of college football season, their experiences could hardly be more varied.

At the University of Texas, where 13 football players tested positive for coronavirus last week, voluntary workouts continue. Kansas State shut down football practices for 14 days after 14 players tested positive. Thirty players have been quarantined at LSU, while Clemson reported 23 positive tests. All 115 Idaho State players tested negative for the virus, while 30 UCLA football players sent a letter to the university demanding certain safety measures before practices even begin.

“It’s a Rubik’s Cube of how you’re moving through all this,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s very difficult right now. I almost think it’s part of the process to get us where we need to be.”

UCLA players aren't convinced they're where they need to be just yet. Their letter to the university reads, in part:

"We as a football community assert our right to protect, preserve, and make decisions with regard to our own personal health and safety and now demand that we are able to do so without consequence in terms of reduction, or cancellation of scholarship benefits, or retaliation from coaches and faculty in any shape or form. As such, current mandatory gatherings planned to take place by July 6th, and situations that follow wherein practices of social distancing could potentially deteriorate should be attended within the discretion of student-athletes.

"Furthermore, should an athlete choose to attend these events, we demand that third-party health officials, tasked with enforcing Covid-19 regulations and identifying breaches in conduct, be present at all team activities and events in order to mitigate detrimental consequences placed on students by the possible future mishandling and neglect of Covid-19 related cases. These health officials, who ought to have no affiliation with the university or the football program, would further contribute to the prevention of serious injury, abuse, and death as a direct result of said mismanagements.

"Finally, in tandem with the governance of appropriately appointed third-party health officials, we demand a space or platform for athletes and staff to directly express concerns with regard to violations of safety standards in an anonymous fashion not controlled or administered by the Athletic Department or any related offices."

In addition to the 13 Texas athletes who tested positive, 10 players are in self-quarantine after coming in contact with at least one of the 13. Four other players have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody.

“We did have some student-athletes test positive for COVID-19 and are following all of our protocols, policies and procedures for self-isolation, contact tracing and management of those affected,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said Thursday, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. “We will continue to report the number of cases as we receive confirmation and clearance to do so.”

For now, Texas has no plans to halt voluntary workouts as the University of Houston did last week after six players tested positive for COVID-19.

Kansas State, however, has suspended its workouts. "The health and well-being of our student-athletes will always be our top priority," K-State athletics director Gene Taylor said, as reported by ESPN. "Following the most recent test results, we felt like temporarily pausing all football workouts and access to our facilities was the best decision for everyone. We continue to take this situation very seriously and want to do everything we can to get back to workouts soon."

As of late last week, it appeared that Texas was among the nation's leaders in positive tests, but SEC rivals LSU and Clemson have since easily eclipsed the Longhorns' total.

As reported by Sports Illustrated, LSU's surge comes despite protocols described as "intense." Players enter the football facility through one entrance while coaches enter through another. Infrared cameras read players’ temperatures before each athlete meets with a trainer for a lengthy questionnaire. If cleared, they are handed a bracelet giving them freedom to move around the facility. This process repeats each day. Shelly Mullenix, the school’s long-time senior associate athletic trainer says that roughly two-thirds of cases have been caught because of fever.

“It’s not surprising we’re seeing the rise right now,” she told SI. “It’s a pandemic. We should not be shocked. The story is that it’s exactly what we said it would be. We were prepared from the get-go for a lot of virus. The good news is we’re seeing subtle virus illness.”

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