Utah athletics had positive COVID-19 tests, but not lately

The University of Utah has been testing student-athletes for COVID-19 since before voluntary workouts began on June 15.

Only now do we have some idea of what those tests yielded.

Speaking on ESPN700 late Monday afternoon, Dr. David Petron, the team doctor for the Utes as well as the Jazz, said 12 student-athletes tested positive before returning to campus. Of the 540 tests conducted once student-athletes arrived on campus, three of them yielded positive results.

Petron went on to say that of the 180 tests conducted inside the football program over the weekend, there were zero positives, a clear indication that Utah’s comprehensive reintroduction program for student-athletes has been working over the course of almost two months.

There were also 10 antibody tests that came back positive once everyone arrived back on campus. Those 10 led to EKG and echocardiograms to screen for cardiac problems, of which Petron said there were none.

The University of Utah athletic department has opted not to make test results public, which it is under no obligation to do, but athletic director Mark Harlan has repeatedly said the school has reported positives to the Department of Health.

As the Pac-12 football season sits on the brink of cancellation, Petron dropped a bomb at the top of the interview with Spence Checketts, saying Pac-12 medical advisors will make a recommendation to “to stop contact and competitive activities at this time.”

A document outlining those recommendations was presented Monday afternoon to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, less than 24 hours before league commissioners and chancellors are scheduled to meet to discuss the fate of the college football season.

The document, per Petron, outlines criteria that includes new daily cases per 100,000 people in a given community and the percent of positive tests in a given community.

The rolling 7-day average of positive tests in the state of Utah as of Monday was 8.9%. Anything over 7.5% will be considered in the red, which means the Pac-12 medical experts will recommend testing as frequently as daily. A daily positive rate closer to the 5-7.5% range, that would lower testing to every other day. A positive case figure of 30 or less per 100,000 would mean testing every three days or even just weekly.

“At this point, we do not recommend any contact practices,” Petron said. “What would be required for football to move forward is for the virus to be controlled at the school and the community at large, access to complete cardiac evaluation and testing access based on our recommendations.

“If it’s above 7.5% daily, we recommend testing daily and we don’t have the ability to do that right now.”