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Badgers QB Graham Mertz awaiting second test to confirm possible COVID-19 infection

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Graham Mertz

Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID-19, and is awaiting a confirmation test. If that test confirms the diagnosis, he will miss at least 21 days of practice and games as he recovers. 

Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID-19, sources told the State Journal on Sunday.

As with all positive tests that occur using the daily rapid antigen tests, Mertz will be taking a PCR nasal swab test in order to confirm his status. The result of that test has not yet been returned to UW. It typically takes about a day to turn a PCR test around, depending on the lab reading the test. 

If the PCR test confirms Mertz’s diagnosis, the No. 9 University of Wisconsin football team’s redshirt freshman quarterback will have to sit out of practice and games for at least 21 days, per the Big Ten Conference’s protocols. Mertz's test could be a false-positive, which would have to be proven by the PCR test. If Mertz is out for at least 21 days, he'll miss contests at Nebraska, against Purdue and at Michigan.

UW officials have not responded to a message asking them to confirm the news. Badgers coach Paul Chryst is slated to speak with reporters Monday. 

UW released a statement Sunday night saying that no players who played in Friday's 45-7 win over Illinois recorded a positive antigen test or reported symptoms before the game. The statement also said no testing information regarding individual student-athletes will be released due to medical privacy.  

Mertz tied UW records for passing touchdowns in a game (five) and consecutive completions (17) in a game, and he set a program record for completion percentage (95.23 percent) in the Badgers’ win over the Illini to start the year. 

UW wasn’t missing any major pieces of the team due to COVID-19 in the opener, but losing Mertz would be a significant blow after his stellar first start.

Big Ten protocols say Mertz will undergo comprehensive cardiac testing if he’s held out from practices and games. The potential for myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, was among the concerns for Big Ten presidents and chancellors when they postponed the fall season in August. Student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10 days, per Big Ten protocols. 

Redshirt sophomore Chase Wolf is Mertz’s backup, and would likely take over the starting role if Mertz is out. Mertz became the starter after senior Jack Coan injured his foot in training camp, an injury that required surgery. Coan is out indefinitely. Wolf played the final offensive drive of Friday’s win. That drive started in the red zone after an interception, and the Badgers kicked a field goal to end it.

The football program’s availability report at Friday’s game listed only Coan, wide receiver Adam Krumholz, outside linebacker Spencer Lytle and offensive lineman Joe Tippmann as unavailable for unspecified reasons. Last month, Public Health Madison and Dane County said the Badgers had 42 cases of COVID-19 from June until mid-September.

UW athletics hasn’t released COVID-19 testing data since early September. That data said 83 student-athletes had tested positive.

Here's how the Big Ten's daily testing protocol works


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