While activities have stopped for the University of Wisconsin football team, the COVID-19 outbreak that led to that shutdown expanded a bit Thursday.
UW released updated numbers Thursday night, stating that there are 16 active cases currently within the football program — three cases that were pending tests came back positive between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Eight staff members and eight student-athletes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since Oct. 21.
The No. 9 Badgers had one student-athlete test positive on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and have had 15 more individuals test positive between Saturday, Oct. 24, and Wednesday. The team defeated Illinois 45-7 in its season opener Friday, Oct. 23, at Camp Randall Stadium.
An Illinois recruiting blogger reported late Thursday night that the Illini had multiple positive tests, but there were no other reports or official confirmation as of Friday morning.
#illini Football news: Covid-19 has hit the Illinois football team. After clean results earlier in the week. Multiple positives today. No update on status for Saturday’s game against Purdue but expect more info tommorow. Retesting will be happening to confirm.— Ryan Evan (@IlliniPulseRy) October 30, 2020
Illinois coach Lovie Smith told reporters earlier in the week that his team has had no new positive cases since playing UW.
Big Ten protocols state a team cannot practice or play for at least seven days if its seven-day rolling average of virus positivity rate surpasses 5% among the team and 7.5% among the team population. UW is between 2-5% among the team and over 7.5% among the team population as of Thursday.
The Badgers are continuing to test players daily, and will provide an update on Saturday, per a news release sent out Thursday night.
Due to the outbreak, UW paused football team activities and canceled its game at Nebraska this weekend. The earliest the team could return to in-person activities is Wednesday, Nov. 4, but that is dependent on stopping the virus’s spread among the team and its staff.
“A return to activity depends upon the success of ongoing mitigation efforts,” a statement from the program read.
Part of the program’s mitigation strategy is to separate players who live together by providing hotel rooms for some of them to stay in their own living spaces. Thursday’s news release said these arrangements will be in effect, “as long as Wisconsin Athletics deems it necessary.”
UW coach Paul Chryst is one of the eight staff members to test positive. Sources have told the State Journal that offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, and quarterbacks Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf have also tested positive.
Chryst, who tested positive on Tuesday afternoon, will isolate himself for 10 days before he can return to in-person coaching. The earliest he could return is Saturday, Nov. 7, the day UW is slated to host Purdue.
Barry Alvarez, UW’s athletic director and former football coach, tested negative on Wednesday.