Things are trending in a positive direction for the Wisconsin football program.
The Badgers have seen their last two games get canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program but are on track to return to the field against Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
The university said Monday that the football program is down to five active COVID-19 cases — two players and three staff members. Over the last week, the program has seen just two positive tests. One was a player, while the other was a staff member. The program has yielded zero positive tests in five of the last six days.
With those encouraging signs, the team began “regular game week preparations” on Monday morning. The Badgers are scheduled to practice each day this week. The athletic department “will continue to monitor the program’s COVID-19 testing results closely to determine the team’s activities moving forward,” the university said.
“We had no new positives on Tuesday and Wednesday which was a great sign,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said. “That’s when we started thinking Friday could be a day we could get the team together to start doing things with an eye towards having a regular practice week this week. So we were cautious on Friday and Saturday, split guys into groups, and just did conditioning. The team then got together and held its regular Monday practice this morning.
“We feel confident that we have a handle on the situation and are excited to play this week at Michigan. As we have done throughout, we will continue to monitor our testing results and base our decision on those results.”
2 Wisconsin games canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak
Wisconsin beat Illinois in its season opener on Oct. 23, but rumors of positive cases within the program began emerging in the days that followed. Team activities were paused on Oct. 28 and the games against Nebraska on Oct. 31 and Purdue on Nov. 7 were subsequently canceled.
Wisconsin has five games remaining on its schedule, putting it at six overall. For the 2020 season, Big Ten teams must play six games to be eligible for the conference title though there are written-in stipulations if the average number of games for all Big Ten teams falls below six.
When the Purdue game was canceled last week, Wisconsin said it had 27 active cases within its program: 15 players and 12 staff members. Badgers head coach Paul Chryst was among those who tested positive. Chryst tested positive on Oct. 28 and returned from mandatory isolation on Thursday.
Wisconsin, like all Big Ten programs, conducts daily antigen testing for COVID-19 for athletes, coaches and staff. Any individual who tests positive on the antigen test is removed from team activities and is then required to follow up with a PCR test for confirmation.
Any player that is confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 is required to miss a minimum of 21 days and undergo “comprehensive cardiac testing.”
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