Numerous universities across the country have seen sporting events postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests throughout the fall season. While Kentucky has witnessed this harsh reality over the last two weekends with its football schedule, this evening’s news is a scarier, first-hand experience for Wildcat athletes.
Kentucky men’s soccer’s Friday evening match at Duke has been postponed due to “positive COVID-19 tests and appropriate quarantine procedures of close contacts on [the Wildcats]”, the university announced via press release just before 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.
No exact number of positive cases concerning men’s soccer players and staff was revealed in the release. UK Athletics’ last Return to Activity update, which came on October 2nd, said 336 student-athletes and 225 staff members were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tested from September 3rd-16th, with 20 athletes and three staff members – not specified by sport – testing positive.
The match was the last of the men’s soccer fall season. The university stated in its press release that the postponement is “is consistent with Covid-19 management requirements developed by the Southeastern Conference Medical Guidance Task Force.”
According to UK Athletics, SEC protocols are being used because Kentucky’s men’s soccer conference (Conference USA) is not playing a fall league schedule and doing so helps the university “be consistent across its sports and athletes.”
The SEC Medical Guidance Task Force Requirements for COVID-19 Management (which can be read here), lists men’s soccer is a “high transmission risk sport”, meaning PCR testing is required “weekly during practice and three times weekly during competition periods.”
The conference requirements state that athletes diagnosed with COVID-19 will “require isolation for at least 10 full days with day 0 starting at the onset of symptoms or the day of testing” if asymptomatic.
Those who are symptomatic must “isolate for at least 10 days from onset of symptoms,” and must go 24 hours since their “last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current CDC guidance for isolation to end.”
Whether an asymptomatic or symptomatic case, athletes must receive a cardiac evaluation, clearance from a team physician and must adhere to “an appropriate period of acclimatization following the period of inactivity.”
Athletes and staff with prolonged close contact during the infection period – which the requirements say is greater than 15 minutes within six feet of the infected person over the two days prior to system onset and isolation – are considered high-risk contacts, and must quarantine 14 days per current national guidelines.
UK said in its press release both it and Duke plan to reschedule their matchup for the spring season.
The Conference USA Men’s Soccer Championship date has yet to be announced, while the sport’s NCAA Championship is scheduled to take place May 13th-17th. Teams can begin spring play no earlier than February 3rd.