ASHLAND, Ore. —
UPDATE: Southern Oregon University announced today details about the two positive cases of coronavirus within their athletics programs. One symptomatic student-athlete and an asymptomatic assistant coach make up the two positive COVID-19 tests within the program.
All athletic programs were suspended on Friday and extend through Tuesday. Practices are set to resume on Wednesday, but players and coaches deemed in close contact with the symptomatic student-athlete will be quarantined for 14 days.
The symptomatic student-athlete received a test on their own when they first experienced symptoms. They immediately reported their positive test results to the athletics department.
As for the asymptomatic assistant coach, their test result was a part of a Cascade Collegiate Conference surveillance test of participating institutions. In the survey, 419 student-athletes and coaches were tested. At SOU, 63 tests were conducted with one positive. Both basketball teams and a quarter of the football team made up the 63 individuals tested. Both sports are deemed higher risk because of the inherent contact within their sports.
Below is the statement released by Southern Oregon University on Tuesday:
"All athletic activities at Southern Oregon University were temporarily suspended after a student-athlete in one sport and an athletic staff member in another tested positive last Friday for COVID-19.
Athletic activities were put on hold to allow SOU’s Student Health and Wellness Center and Jackson County Public Health to conduct contact tracing. The university conducts robust contact tracing whenever a positive COVID-19 case is reported among it students or employees, and members of the campus community are told that if they are not contacted, they likely were not exposed.
As in all COVID-19 cases at SOU, the student-athlete and athletic staff member have been isolated until they are no longer contagious. Contact tracing on the two positive cases resulted in 14-day quarantines for a small number of other student-athletes and athletic staff members. They can safely return to campus activities if they test negative following their quarantines.
Athletic activities for all other programs – which remain non-contact and require face coverings – will resume on Wednesday.
SOU’s student-athletes and members of the university’s athletic staff are tested for COVID-19 much more regularly than students or employees in the general campus population, leading to an expectation of occasional positive tests. Student-athletes currently undergo surveillance testing – a percentage of athletes are tested each week – and each person on the team will receive a weekly test when a sport begins its competitive season.
The athletic staff member’s positive test was due to a Cascade Collegiate Conference initiative in which 419 student-athletes and coaches associated with CCC institutions across three states (Oregon, Idaho and Washington) underwent COVID-19 testing last week. Of those processed throughout the conference, four were positive and 415 were negative. Sixty-three of those tested were from SOU, which had a 1.6 percent positive rate with one positive and 62 negative tests."
The following is the article previously published by NewsWatch 12 on Monday.
INITIAL REPORT: Practices for fall athletics at Southern Oregon University were put on a temporary hold Friday after two athletics personnel tested positive for coronavirus.
SOU decided to do a trial run of the anticipated Cascade Collegiate Conference testing protocol, testing all basketball players and coaches, along with a quarter of the football players and coaches — about 60 people in total.
From that group, one person produced a positive test for COVID-19. A second person, not part of the trial, got a test independently after showing symptoms — ultimately producing a second positive.
SOU shut down the Athletics Department for the time being to allow for contact tracing by Jackson County Public Health, allowing them to determine who can be cleared, and who needs to quarantine. The SOU Health & Wellness Center is also aiding with contact tracing.
"We have a very conservative game plan when it comes to the indication of a positive test," said SOU Athletics Director Matt Sayre.
Because there were only two positives to come from the testing, Sayre is confident that there has been no "cross-contamination" between the teams.
The Athletics Department plans to have activities resume on Wednesday. In the meantime, SOU Athletics plans to hold a "debrief" on Tuesday for coaches, trainers, and staff to learn from the situation.
Jackson County Public Health is in charge of determining who were at contact risk from the positive cases. As of Monday, Sayre said that no other positive cases have emerged from the additional testing.