North Texas has tested 165 members of its athletic department, including coaches, staff and football players without having any positive viral results for COVID-19.
A UNT official confirmed the current result tally on Monday afternoon. The school welcomed its second wave of about 30 football players back to campus earlier in the day.
All of UNT’s players are taking a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies when they return to campus. Players who test positive are immediately given a follow-up nasal swab test to check for a current coronavirus infection.
Antibodies show that a person has been exposed to the virus or recovered after being infected.
UNT’s first wave of about 30 players arrived on June 8. Three members of the team tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and were given follow-up tests.
The second wave of players took their antibody tests on Monday.
“As far as testing goes, things have gone well,” the UNT official said.
UNT athletic department officials worked with the academic side of the university to formulate a detailed plan to safely return its football players and athletic department staffers to campus.
That plan was largely built on testing and social distancing.
UNT elected to bring its players and staff members back in groups. The school’s athletic department staff returned to campus on June 3.
UNT’s linemen, tight ends and linebackers arrived on June 8, while its quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs returned Monday. Freshmen and all other scholarship players will report next Monday, June 22. The remainder of the players on UNT’s roster will arrive July 13.
Staff members underwent a nasal swab test for COVID-19.
“I absolutely feel good about what we are doing,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said during a teleconference Thursday. “We are making sure we are doing things the right way.”
UNT’s precautions go well beyond its testing strategy.
The school isolated the three players who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, pending the results of the follow-up swab tests. UNT officials said those tests were expected back within 48 to 72 hours of when they were administered June 8.
Each person who enters an athletic department facility has their temperature checked and is questioned about their health when they arrive each day. Athletic department officials give each person a colored wristband when they complete the check-in. Wristband colors change daily to ensure that everyone participating in team activities has completed the process.
UNT has split its players into small groups and also 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.
“You can’t completely eliminate risk, but we feel like we have put enough measures in place to provide a safe environment,” said Jared Mosley, UNT’s associate vice president for athletics, who played a key role in formulating the school’s plan to return athletes to campus.
Houston allowed its football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams to return to campus June 1 and tested only athletes who showed symptoms or came from areas that had a high number of positive cases, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Houston was forced to suspend its workouts on Friday after six people tested positive for COVID-19.
Several other schools have also had positive tests, including Marshall, one of UNT’s rivals in Conference USA.