When Division I student-athlete’s began to return to campuses across America last week, the University of Houston took a different tack than many peer FBS schools. They implemented a program where only symptomatic players would be tested, while not conducting mass testing on all returning athletes and coaches.
And that appears to have been a mistake, as today the Cougars became the first program to shut down voluntary workouts after six athletes have tested positive.
The University of Houston Department of Athletics is immediately suspending all voluntary workouts for student-athletes, out of an abundance of caution. The decision, made in consultation with internal and external medical experts, comes after six symptomatic UH student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 along with the increase in the number of positive tests in the greater Houston area over the last week. The impacted students have been placed in isolation and contact tracing procedures have been initiated following protocol. As was contemplated prior to the return of student-athletes on June 1, UH Athletics is adapting its protocols to include repetitive COVID-19 testing as a component of any resumption of workouts on campus. During this pause in voluntary workouts, UH Athletics will continue its stringent cleaning and sanitization protocols in all facilities. UH Athletics will continue to partner with university officials, UH team physicians and local health professionals to determine best practices as it considers a return to workouts.
While using a fogging machine and this substance to disinfect any surface an athlete touches in their workout facility was part of that procedure, it apparently wasn’t enough to stop the spread.
UH does have a medical school, and should have plenty of resources available so that any return doesn’t have this happen again. But the first thing they’ll likely change is the testing program, because waiting for those with symptoms to appear is often waiting too long.