The University at Buffalo is reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 in its Athletics Department, with more than two dozen student-athletes across three teams affected.
UB Athletics Director Mark Alnutt announced Tuesday that 25 student-athletes have tested positive, including 19 football players, five women’s volleyball players and one women’s soccer player. He added that the students-athletes are in isolation and doing well.
“Our athletic training staff, coaches and student-athletes have done an excellent job of preventing and containing the spread of the virus over the past four months,” Alnutt said in a statement. “With the rigorous health protocols we have in place, and with the dedicated commitment of our student-athletes and athletics staff, we will continue to protect our student-athletes, the UB campus community and the community at large.”
UB Athletics conducted over 1,300 tests as part of its regular testing program from June 12 to Sept. 20, resulting in only eight student-athletes testing positive and an overall positivity rate of less than 1%, according to the university’s statement.
These 25 new positive cases were discovered when 322 student-athletes were tested last week after one student-athlete reported COVID-like symptoms. UB Athletics tested the entire football and volleyball teams, in addition to its regular testing surveillance program.
In total, UB has had 111 students test positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks, including 81 students who are living or taking classes on campus, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.
UB’s announcement comes just four days after the Mid-American Conference announced UB and other MAC football teams will play a shortened, six-game season starting Nov. 4. The MAC had previously cancelled the fall football season with intentions to play in the spring.
UB’s women volleyball and soccer teams are not competing this fall but can hold meetings and strength and conditioning practices.
UB said the football team, as well as the volleyball and soccer teams, hope to resume activities on Oct. 5. That’s the same day UB Athletics will begin implementing new health protocols under the MAC’s Medical Advisory Group for football programs. The protocols require point-of-care antigen testing at least four times a week of all football players, coaches, athletic trainers and other individuals who are on the field for practices and games.
Also beginning Oct. 5, MAC football teams with a positivity rate of 2 to 5% must alter practice and meeting schedules, consider the viability of continuing scheduled competition, and test more frequently. Teams with a positivity rate greater than 5% must stop practice and competition for a minimum of seven days.