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'We don't want to repeat what happened': CDC joins in probe of Badgers COVID-19 outbreak
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'We don't want to repeat what happened': CDC joins in probe of Badgers COVID-19 outbreak

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Badgers coach Paul Chryst greets offensive lineman Jon Dietzen following a score during UW's 45-7 victory over Illinois on Oct. 23. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL 

Paul Chryst says the University of Wisconsin football program will do everything it can to avoid another COVID-19 outbreak like the one that forced the cancellation of two games.

“Obviously, we don’t want to repeat what happened,” Chryst said Monday in a Zoom interview session after it was announced No. 13 UW (1-0) will resume play Saturday with a game at Michigan (1-2). “And I don’t know that we can be in control of everything, but you want to do all that you can.”

Thirty members of the program – 17 players and 13 staff – have tested positive since Oct. 21. But UW is down to five active cases – two players and three staff members – and it said Monday that five of the previous six days yielded no positive tests.

UW researchers are analyzing the viral samples to determine whether there was one point of introduction that led to the spread or if the outbreak included multiple clusters of the virus. That could take weeks to find out because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now involved in the analysis of the outbreak.

A UW official said the program is doing periodic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in addition to daily rapid-response antigen tests. UW had been doing daily PCR testing, which is more accurate than the rapid tests but takes longer to get results – as it tried to control the spread of the virus last week.

Chryst took some heat for wearing his face covering improperly during UW’s 45-7 victory over Illinois on Oct. 23 at Camp Randall Stadium. He later expressed disappointment for any role he may have played in the spread of the virus to his players or staff.

Asked Monday if he thought there had been slippage inside the building in terms of following mitigation protocol, be it proper social distancing or mask usage, Chryst said UW has “got to look at everything” as it reviews what went wrong.

He said he addressed his players and staff Sunday night and stressed the importance of following protocol.

“I don’t know guys, we’re going to do some things, we certainly think it’s going to help,” Chryst said of his message. “We don’t know that this will be the answer, this is the (magic) bullet to it. That’s why we’re kind of spreading guys out in the locker room. I don’t know that anything happened in the locker room, but I don’t know that it didn’t. Meetings, we’re going to be going virtual and I don’t know if it was (spread) in the meeting room or not.”

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez spoke recently former Badgers cornerback Troy Vincent, who’s now the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, about mitigation strategies used by NFL teams. Alvarez passed along the material to Chryst, who described the information as “practical.”

Examples Chryst gave Monday included suggestions on how to safely board buses and planes and how, when two members of a traveling party are seated next to one another, they shouldn’t be drinking from their glass or bottle at the same time.

“Certainly there’s a couple things that you do pick up that you think, ‘Hadn’t thought it of quite that way,’ ” Chryst said. “So it was helpful.”


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