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Penn State Athletics Reports 50 New COVID-19 Cases Within Department

on September 16, 2020 4:30 PM

Penn State Athletics has reported 50 new COVID-19 positives among 859 tests for the span of September 5-11 according to a regularly scheduled department press release on Wednesday.

The news comes on the heels of last week's testing results of 48 positives, a rate which hit the 5.0% positively threshold, forcing pauses for all athletic activities within several programs. While Penn State did not and does not specify which programs were put on pause, football, men's hockey and men's basketball were among team still practicing last week.

In turn, while a 50 positive case to 859 tests rate of 5.8% would normally trigger a similar pause, a Penn State spokesperson indicated that many of the positive cases were represented by student-athletes already among those on paused teams, in turn the results did not require further suspension of team activities.

On Tuesday the university at large, which includes athletics within its reporting, brought its campus total of COVID-19 positives to 1,146 since Aug. 7, including one employee case, according to Penn State's updated COVID-19 dashboard. A university news release said 477 students who tested positive have completed their isolation and are no longer considered active cases.

All of Wednesday's news comes as a companion to the Big Ten Conference's announcement that it would attempt to begin its football season -and perhaps fall spots calendar- in late October. The league has implemented more stringent COVID-19 testing that would occur on a daily basis both for football and non-football fall athletes. Official decision about non-football sports normally slated for the fall are set to coming in the following days or perhaps weeks.

Various testing requirements and standards for play are as follows.

  • Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):
    • Green 0-2% 
    • Orange 2-5% 
    • Red >5%
  • Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk): Population rate includes coaches and other in-program, non student-athlete personnel.
    • Green 0-3.5% 
    • Orange 3.5-7.5% 
    • Red >7.5%

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

While Penn State does not report specific team information, comments by Penn State coach James Franklin and others have indicated that the football program has yet to report a positive COVID-19 case since its return to campus.

Centre County reported 59 new cases on Wednesday, a somewhat modest increase following several days of record-high reports.

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