The North Texas athletics department has four athletes with active cases of COVID-19 as of Monday but has started to see some positive news in terms of athletes and coaches recovering from infections.
UNT had seven active infections last week, when it had three new cases among its athletes.
At that point, UNT had four athletes and three members of its staff with active infections. All three members of UNT’s staff and one athlete who previously tested positive have now recovered.
UNT has not publicly released its testing totals. A UNT source provided them to the Denton Record-Chronicle late Monday.
The school instituted a plan to handle the COVID-19 pandemic this summer that relies on testing and social distancing to contain infections. UNT originally planned to administer blood tests for coronavirus antibodies to its athletes. Coaches and athletic department personnel as well as anyone who showed signs of an active infection were slated to receive swab tests.
Antibody tests show a person has recovered from an infection or been exposed to the virus. Swab tests are used to detect an active infection.
UNT is isolating all school officials and athletes who test positive for the virus to prevent its spread.
UNT adjusted its policy in mid-June due to a spike in cases in Denton County and across the state. At that point, UNT began administering swab tests to every member of its athletic department, including those who arrived before the change in policy.
The school has now conducted 239 swab tests and 82 antibody tests since its coaches and athletes began returning to campus in early June. UNT shut down its campus in March, when the college basketball postseason and spring sports were called off due to the pandemic.
UNT’s coaches and administrators were the first to return to campus on June 3. Three groups of about 30 football players have since returned to resume an offseason conditioning program.
The first wave arrived June 8. A second arrived on June 15 and a third June 22. The remainder of UNT’s football players are scheduled to report July 13.
The school’s soccer and volleyball teams are expected to report next week. UNT’s basketball teams are also slated to return in the next few days.
UNT has split its football players into small groups and set up four locker rooms and three weight rooms. Each group is assigned to one locker room and one weight room to minimize contact between players.
Schools across the country are struggling to deal with the pandemic. Arizona paused its plan to bring athletes back to campus late last month due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the area. Fordham canceled its game at Hawaii on Sept. 12 due to the pandemic Monday.
“I would be surprised if we get to the end and no one tests positive,” UNT athletic director Wren Baker said before the school launched its plan to return its athletic department personnel and athletes to campus. “That’s why we are testing.”
Those tests turned up a handful of infections among athletes and athletic department personnel. Some of those athletes and officials have since recovered.