Western Michigan announced on Thursday that all athletic activities have been suspended as nine student-athletes across four teams have tested positive for COVID-19.
A press release sent out by WMU athletics said several cases were close contacts in communal living spaces.
In an interview with MLive, Associate Athletic Director Robin Hook said the suspension of activities is due to quarantining student-athletes until contact tracing is complete.
“I don’t have the info on how many are being quarantined, but it’s not just football,” Hook said. "There are quarantines for several student-athletes at this point, which is the reason (for the suspension) more so than the positive tests -- the quarantining of student-athletes because of the contact tracing.”
Since the start of the fall semester, WMU’s athletic department has used NCAA-recommended surveillance testing, which involves testing 25-50 percent of a roster every two weeks for sports deemed high and medium risk (football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, baseball, softball and gymnastics), according to MLive.
Since that surveillance testing began only when the fall semester started, this was likely the first round of those tests. Other than that, student-athletes are subject to the same online daily screening questions that all WMU students are required to answer before coming to campus.
It is currently unknown how long the suspension will last, but athletic activities will not resume until “the full extent of transmission can be assessed,” according to the press release.
“We’re just pausing activities to allow the COVID-19 situation to become more apparent, and then once we’re in a situation where we’re ready to test all student-athletes, we’ll do that in a matter of days or perhaps up to two weeks,” Hook told MLive. “Then, the student athletes that are quarantined right now will be tested. All the other student-athletes will be tested, and then at some point, athletic activities will be resumed.”