Update, 9:15 p.m.: During the Faculty Executive Committee meeting on July 13, Campus Health Executive Director Ken Pittman, discussed two points of exposure to COVID-19 that may have contributed to the 37 positive cases within Carolina Athletics. One of those points was at an off-campus apartment complex.
“Initially, we know that the contacts and then the additional positives were in an off-campus apartment complex where there were a number of individuals that were living together and that were presumably socializing to some extent together once they returned to campus,” Pittman said.
The second point of exposure identified during the meeting was at a restaurant.
“I think that we found also that there was a dinner, where perhaps a group of athletes and others went out,” PIttman said. “And during the time that they were eating obviously were unmasked and maybe not, in this particular restaurant, physically distanced appropriately.”
Director of Sports Medicine Dr. Mario Ciocca highlighted the safety measures within the University’s athletics facilities, including cleaning protocol in training and conditioning rooms, symptom checks, physical distance and face masks and hand sanitizer supplies. He said groups that were screened had all tested negative twice.
“The problem is that it’s very easy to penetrate that bubble when you’re living as a college student in this environment,” Ciocca said. “They have girlfriends or partners or friends that they hang out with or are going to other places, and so it’s very easy for an infection to get in.”
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the University will continue following guidance from the ACC, with expectations of receiving updated recommendations by July 22.
Praveena Somasundaram contributed reporting.
UNC announced 37 student-athletes, coaches and Carolina Athletics staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since their return to campus after Campus Health and UNC Hospitals performed 429 tests, according to a UNC Media Relations press release on Wednesday.
This week, the Orange County Health Department identified a cluster, meaning five or more related cases, within those who have tested positive.
The University announced that those who tested positive, including student-athletes, coaches and staff members, are required to isolate for a 14-day period following their positive tests.
“Student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate … in a campus residence hall specified by the University or at their permanent residence,” the press release said.
The University announced that athletes and staff identified as close contacts to individuals who tested positive, using the CDC guide for contact tracing, will also be required to self-isolate for a 14 day period.
The North Carolina football team will pause voluntary workouts for at least a week and resume at a date to be determined, according to the press release.
The team started its return to campus on June 12, when the first group of players, coaches and staff returned to campus. On June 29, the final group of players arrived and started testing for COVID-19. The men’s and women’s basketball teams returned for testing on July 6, and all remaining fall sport athletes are slated to return Monday and begin testing.
The University said it will not identify specific individuals and their results.
Three players from both Central Florida and Auburn, UNC football’s first two scheduled opponents, tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to campus for voluntary workouts in June.
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