42 Badger players, staff test positive for coronavirus

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MADISON, Wis. (AP/CBS 58) — Forty-two players and staff with the Wisconsin football team have tested positive for COVID-19 as the Big Ten makes plans to get the season started.

Starting Sept, 30, players, staff, coaches and anyone who’ll be on the field will receive a daily antigen test. 

“It looks for a protein that’s specific to Coronavirus, to COVID-19, and if that protein is present on the swab that you collect it’ll give you a positive test result," Dr. Jeffrey Pothof, chief quality officer at UW Health, said.

Pothof said this is different than the standard tests given at most testing facilities, which detect the virus’ genetic material.

With antigen tests no lab is required, it’s less expensive and results can come in minutes.

But, it can be less specific.

“Even though the test is very good, using the antigen test does increase, slightly, the risk of someone sneaking through, someone who actually has the disease, getting the test, having a negative test but still going to practice," he explained.

Public Health Madison & Dane County said the 42 people tested positive since June when athletes and staff returned to campus. Twenty-nine of the positive tests were from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15.

The jump in cases, especially among UW students, has officials urging fans not to gather to watch football games this season.

“Of course it’s disappointing that something as well-loved as gathering to watch Badger football games can’t happen this year,” Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, said in a statement. “But the reality is that it’s not possible to have a traditional football season without substantially increasing COVID-19 transmission. We value people’s health and lives over sports, and we hope that UW does as well.”

Pandemic aside, many players and fans are willing to play the odds.

“In human nature we think to ourselves, it’s not going to happen to me and if it does it won’t be bad. And the long-term risks we just don’t know what those are yet, and sometimes I think people prefer not to know," Clinical & Sports Psychologist Dr. Peder Piering said.

According to the Big Ten, any player who tests positive must wait 21 days before returning to the game.

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors reversed an earlier decision to shut down all fall sports because of the coronavirus. The council voted unanimously to go ahead with the league’s 2020 football season beginning Oct. 23 or Oct. 24.




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