FARGO — The North Dakota State athletic department didn’t have to wait real long to put its COVID-19 protocol into action. A Bison student-athlete has tested positive for the coronavirus, said athletic director Matt Larsen.
The person is being quarantined for 14 days, or until having a negative test result. Larsen said he can’t reveal the identity of the player because of student privacy laws but said the person is doing well.
“He complained of some symptoms and that’s why we had him tested,” Larsen said.
NDSU brought back its football players for voluntary workouts on June 1. Other sports like men’s and women’s basketball have slowly been added to the workout mix.
Upon the positive test, Larsen said NDSU has been following an action plan it had prepared along with the North Dakota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control guidelines.
“We had a plan in place so if and when we did get a first positive, it wasn’t a ‘let’s scramble and figure out what to do,’” Larsen said. “So we’re just following the playbook that was there in addition to some other things we wanted to make sure happened. We felt confident when we did get a positive that these are the steps we needed to take and so far it’s worked out well.”
Bison football players have been working out at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex weight training facility in groups of 10. Each player goes through a daily wellness check that includes temperature checks. If somebody is 100.4 or above, they immediately get tested for the coronavirus.
Upon a positive test, Larsen said the North Dakota Health Department goes through its contact tracing methods. NDSU’s protocol also includes two-a-day checks of the student-athlete by either the NDSU team doctor or sports medicine staff.
“Just to see how they are, how they’re feeling,” Larsen said. “And then anybody that was either living with them or in a workout group with them, we would also get them tested as well.”
Since colleges started bringing athletes back to campus earlier this month, positive tests have cropped up around the country.
That includes a few high-profile FBS schools, according to various reports. They include five players at Alabama, four at Mississippi State, three at Auburn and two at Clemson. In each case, the players were quarantined away from their teammates while summer workouts proceeded as scheduled.
The University of Houston shut down its summer workouts after six student-athletes tested positive. The Houston area has also been a hot spot of sorts lately while North Dakota has continued to see positive cases decline. Cass County has had 2,058 positive cases but 85 percent of those have recovered.
Ohio State had its players sign a risk waiver before starting workouts. The Columbus Dispatch newspaper said “those kinds of waivers could become a standard in college football to the extent that fans, if allowed in the stadiums at all, are asked to commit to similar acknowledgments of risk prior to their entry for a home game.”
Larsen said NDSU has no plans to have student-athletes sign waivers.
“We’ve met with our student-athletes and a lot of what they have in those (waivers) are things we talked about too,” he said. “There is a risk level but a lot of it is, we want to make sure we’re doing all the things student-athletes have been doing in the last two months to be preventative — social distancing, wearing a mask to washing your hands. That’s kept them healthy to this point and let’s continue to do those things as we move forwards.”