COVID-19 Medical Protocols for Big Ten Conference Include Twice-Weekly Testing, Sharing Positive Test Results with Opponents, 14-Day Quarantines for Positive Tests

By Zack Carpenter on August 5, 2020 at 11:06 am
Big Ten Conference

Along with its release of a league-wide 10-game, conference-only schedule, the Big Ten Conference also released its COVID-19 Medical Protocols on Wednesday morning.

Some of those protocols include:

  • Twice-weekly testing by a third-party testing laboratory for football players, coaches and additional staff members who come in regular, in-person close contact with the athletes.
  • Testing within three days of that week's game day. For Ohio State's Thursday season opener on Sept. 3, for example, those individuals will be tested on Monday.
  • The results of all positive tests prior to game day must be shared with that week's upcoming opponent, and all positive results following that week's game must be shared with the previous week's opponent.
  • A 14-day quarantine period for those who test positive and anyone who came within close contact of those who test positive.

Most Ohio State football players have already been back on campus for two months, but for any players and staff members who are making their initial arrival to campus, they will be tested and required to take a symptoms questionnaire prior to being allowed to enter the athletics facilities.

Once they are allowed to practice, players and staff members must be tested twice weekly. That includes being tested within three days of that week's game day, and all testing results must be shared with that week's opponent prior to game time. The results of all confirmed cases that may arise following that week's game must also be shared with the previous week's opponent in order to facilitate contact tracing.

In addition to routine surveillance and pre-competition testing, if players or staff members develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point, a clinical evaluation is required, which may include testing for the virus. Even if that player or staff member was infected with COVID-19 at any point within the previous three months, testing for the virus is still required. And if a player or coach becomes symptomatic between testing and competition, they will be isolated until repeat results are available. 

When a positive result arises, those with prolonged close contact (greater than 15 minutes within six feet) during the period of infectivity are considered close contacts, per the CDC. According to the Power 5 conferences' testing standards, close contact also includes contact collisions during practice.

Once a player or staff member tests positive, that individual and anyone who has had “close contact” with that individual will be required to quarantine for 14 days, per current national guidelines, without the ability to test outside of quarantine. Once those 14 days are up, a return to play is allowable only if no symptoms develop while quarantined, and the schools are encouraged to test those players or staff members. Even if they do not test positive, they will still be required to quarantine for that 14-day period.

Any individual who is suspected of having an infection must be isolated and tested, and if that yields a positive result, anyone who came in close contact with that individual will be required to be immediately quarantined and placed in isolation.

For cases that arise during a game, the individual needs to be immediately isolated, and that information is required to be shared with the current opponent to aid in decisions about how to proceed with that competition.

For individuals who test positive but are asymptomatic, a 10-day isolation period is required. If the individual becomes symptomatic during that time, that person will be required to adhere to the protocols above. 

“I have a son who’s a football student-athlete in the SEC, at Mississippi State, and so I’ve asked myself as a father: Would I be comfortable for him to participate in the Big Ten based upon the testing policies, protocols and procedures we have in place? And as of today, the answer is yes,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in an interview with BTN on Wednesday.

The twice-weekly testing procedures are already being followed by Ohio State, Wyatt Davis told reporters on Tuesday, in addition to a mask being required while being in the facility. 

“Ohio State has done a great job of monitoring our guys and creating a safe working environment, so you just gotta hope that every other school is doing the same, and if they are, then I’m very optimistic that this season will happen,” Davis said.

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