Virginia Athletics reported four positive COVID-19 test results Monday out of 651 tests administered to student-athletes and staff between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29. This week’s 0.6 percent positivity rate marks a step backward for Virginia Athletics, which had experienced zero positive test results over the past two weeks. However, the number of positive COVID-19 test results is still much lower than the early weeks of the fall semester when weekly positive cases reached a peak of 22.
“All positive tests are reported to the Thomas Jefferson Health District of the Virginia Department of Health,” the press release said. “Those individuals will self-isolate for at least 10 days or until symptoms are resolving plus 24-hours fever free.”
As dictated by ACC protocol, all Virginia student-athletes participating in “high-risk” sports that are in the midst of competition — which currently include football and men’s and women’s basketball — are tested three times a week.
Virginia football’s game at Florida State was postponed Saturday morning after the Seminoles discovered a positive test within their team late Friday evening. After conducting contact tracing and learning of some player opt-outs, the program determined that it could not move forward with the contest, as it would only have 44 scholarship players available for the game. It was the second week in a row that Florida State was unable to compete in a game, after its game against Clemson one week prior was postponed as well.
This is now the third rescheduled game of the Cavaliers’ season. All three games were postponed on account of Virginia’s opponents suffering from COVID-19 issues. Virginia has not reported a positive test within the football team since Oct. 24.
“I have no interest in going back to Florida State,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a press conference Monday. “That opportunity was there, it's no longer there. I'm anxious to play Boston College and then Virginia Tech. And then hopefully we play well enough to be considered for [the] postseason, and we go from there.”
Mendenhall further criticized the postponement, especially targeting the ACC and its guidelines that led to such a late cancellation. Virginia had already traveled to Tallahassee, Fla. after receiving its own COVID-19 results Friday before the game was canceled Saturday.
“There's a lot of work that could still be done regarding protocols and regarding ensuring that when you make a trip that you actually have a chance to play the game,” Mendenhall said. “I have expressed those concerns and ideas to the ACC as has Carla [Williams]. And we can do better is my sincere belief.”
Football across the country has been hit particularly hard, with an increasing number of cancellations and postponements. CBS reported 108 college football games have been disrupted thus far in 2020, and more are sure to follow. The NFL is also facing COVID-19 issues on the professional level. The Denver Broncos’ entire quarterback team was ruled ineligible for their game Sunday due to COVID-19 concerns, forcing the team to use practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton under center.
Moreover, the Week 12 matchup between Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed three times and is currently scheduled to be played Wednesday. The delays came after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Ravens’ program — in a little over a week, 22 Baltimore players either tested positive or were identified as a high-risk close contact.
Beyond football, Virginia men’s basketball also faced scheduling shakeups in the past week. The Cavaliers had initially planned on playing Maine and Florida at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. last week but instead faced Towson and San Francisco after COVID-19 complications shut down their original opponents’ programs for several days.
While the number of students on Grounds is currently much lower on account of the University’s extended winter break, which began Nov. 24, weekly testing is mandatory for students who remain in Charlottesville. Between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28, 4,958 tests were given to members of the University community, resulting in 25 positive results.
As of Tuesday, there are 35 active cases within Virginia faculty, staff, students and contract employees. Zero percent of the University's quarantine dorms and isolation dorms are currently filled — the former are reserved for those who have been exposed and the latter for those who tested positive for COVID-19.
All COVID-19 testing for Virginia student-athletes is administered by U.Va. Health with the exception of the testing the football team receives the day before games. This set of tests is administered by Mako Medical — an independent third-party, North Carolina-based laboratory.
The University updates its COVID-19 tracker Monday through Friday by 4 p.m., and it includes all of the testing administered to student-athletes with the exception of the football team’s final round of testing prior to game day.