The Orange County Health Department has identified a cluster, meaning five or more related cases, of COVID-19 cases among the 429 tests run as part of UNC athletics’ attempt at returning to campus. Thirty-seven athletes, coaches, or staff, though that number was not broken down by each group or by sport, have tested positive.
As a result of the outbreak, UNC Football has paused all voluntary workouts until further notice. Those who tested positive will need to isolate for up to 14 days in a residence hall designated by the university or at a permanent residence away from campus. Any close contacts of those who have tested positive will also need to self-isolate as well.
The Ivy League announced today that it will not allow any sports to go forward until after January 1, 2021 at the earliest. That means punting on all fall sports, including football. It doesn’t seem out of the question that other conferences will ultimately follow that lead as case numbers continue to spike in various parts of the country and time is beginning to run out on delaying preparations for the upcoming football season.
It’s possible that conferences will try to push fall sports like football to the spring when things may look better than they do now, and doing so will also take an amount of logistical work that will need to begin sooner rather than later.
The first domino has definitely fallen with today’s announcement from the Ivies, but we’ll have to see which other ones follow.