UB Athletics responds to positive COVID-19 cases

Published September 29, 2020

Updated October 1, 2020

The Division of Athletics has taken immediate steps in response to test results indicating that 25 student-athletes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The cases are contained to student-athletes on the women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and football teams, says UB Athletics Director Mark Alnutt, adding that the individuals are in isolation, being cared for and doing well.

The 25 cases were detected during the weeks of Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, and were included in UB’s COVID-19 Dashboard postings on Sept. 23, Sept. 25 and Sept. 28, respectively.  Specifically, the 25 cases were added as they became known over two separate New York Higher Education Threshold periods: Sept. 12-25 and Sept. 26 to Oct. 9, respectively, in compliance with SUNY guidelines on the reporting of cases.

“We have had very low incidence of COVID-19 since we began testing our student-athletes in June,” Alnutt says. “Per our health and safety protocols, we took immediate steps to curb the spread of the virus among our student-athletes and athletics staff.”

From June 12 to Sept. 20, just over 1,300 tests were conducted by UB Athletics as part of its regular testing program. Prior to these new cases, only eight student-athletes had tested positive. Overall, the positivity rate among UB student-athletes is less than 1%, Alnutt notes.

“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,” he says. “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.”

Discovery of the new cases resulted from testing 322 student-athletes last week after one student-athlete reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The results of two tests of the entire football and women’s volleyball teams, as well as UB Athletics’ regular surveillance testing over the past week, indicated that 25 student-athletes — 19 football players, five women’s volleyball players and one women’s soccer player — were positive.

Per UB Athletics protocol, all team activities in the three sports were immediately paused, Alnutt says, with the hope they will resume Oct. 5, after the health status of each team is further evaluated.

On Oct. 5, UB Athletics will begin implementing new health protocols developed by the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Medical Advisory Group for football programs. The protocols require point-of-care antigen testing at least four times a week of all football student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and other individuals that are on the field for practices and games.

Also beginning Oct. 5, according to MAC football protocols, teams that have a positivity rate of 2-5% must proceed with caution and enhanced COVID-19 prevention efforts. These efforts include altering practice/meeting schedules, considering the viability of continuing scheduled competition and more frequent testing. Teams with a positivity rate greater than 5% must stop practice and competition for a minimum of 7 days.