Kansas State's athletics department is dealing with the reality of the coronavirus far earlier than it would like.
One day after the football began voluntary summer workouts — Big 12 teams were allowed to start summer activities Monday — the athletics department announced Tuesday that two student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 following PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests.
“We will always keep our focus on the health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff,” K-State athletics director Gene Taylor said in a statement. “A small number of positive tests was something that we were anticipating based on what we are seeing from across college football, and our medical staff and coaching staffs are well prepared for the next steps. While we know this is a very fluid situation, we have a great plan in place and all of our student-athletes have done their part in following the correct procedures to return to campus.”
The announcement did not specifically mention that football players were the two student-athletes in question, but a report from GoPowercat.com Tuesday stated that was the case. In addition, football players are the only student-athletes permitted on campus until next month; other fall sport athletes in the Big 12 can return July 1, while men's and women's basketball players can begin workouts July 6.
The positive tests are corroborated by the latest update from the Riley County Health Department: There have been six new cases in the county since Friday. Two of those positives (a 21- and 22-year-old) are males in the age range of K-State student-athletes.
Football players began returning to campus June 1 so they could go into a one-week quarantine. On Thursday, K-State announced that 90 student-athletes had undergone testing for the coronavirus, and all 90 came back negative. While the announcement noted one student-athlete had tested positive for COVID-19 with antibody testing, it stated the case no longer was active.
K-State has had 120 student-athletes return to campus and undergo testing through Tuesday afternoon.
The two positive tests since Friday were from athletes who arrived after the initial 90 came back negative.
Yet it's possible more student-athletes than just the two positive cases have been exposed to the coronavirus.
According to GoPowercat.com's report, one of the student-athletes who tested positive worked out off-campus with other members of the football team prior to learning the result of his test. GoPowercat.com reports that 10 football players are now quarantined after being exposed to one of the two active carriers of COVID-19. The contact-traced quarantine for the 10 players would last for up to 14 days. The only contact they would be allowed to have during that two-week period is with the nine other members of the quarantined group.
Following a positive test for COVID-19, each student-athlete is medically managed according to the most up-to-date local, state, national, and CDC guidelines, which begins with self-isolation for 10 days and until the patient is without fever for 72 hours without medication, whichever takes longer. These guidelines also would include quarantine for any individuals known to have been in contact with someone who tested positive.
Student-athletes have been required to follow the department’s return-to-campus policy, which includes a seven-day stay-at-home recommendation and quarantine upon arrival in Manhattan and prior to testing. Under this protocol, student-athletes are not permitted inside any athletics department facilities, nor can they participate in any voluntary or required team activities until they have received a negative test result.
The athletics department will continue administering PCR and antibody testing of student-athletes as they make their way back to Manhattan. Results of the tests will be released upon completion.