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Upon identifying clusters of Covid-19 cases in the East Carolina University campus, with ten positives among the football team, athletic director Jon Gilbert announced on Thursday the pausing of football activities to mitigate the virus’s spread. For the second time during this offseason, the university postponed football activities due to the Covid-19 infection among its team.
A “cluster” has more than four cases that are “deemed close proximity in location,” as defined by the Northern Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. According to a news report, there are seven positives in another cluster identified in the residence hall.
The Pirates started their training since the camp opened on July 31, but new cases arose when the general student population started face-to-face classes on August 10. Besides East Carolina University, other schools such as Notre Dame, North Carolina, and NC State reported increasing cases of Covid-19 with their students back on campus.
The university took steps in alleviating the spread of the virus, putting all infected players in isolation. They will also be conducting contact tracing, and those found in close contact will undergo quarantine.
“We will continue to monitor all of our student-athletes on campus and take all the necessary actions to follow all safety protocols established at the local, state and national levels.”Jon Gilbert, East Carolina University athletic director
Initially, East Carolina set to open its season on August 29, with a competition against Marshall, but the team rescheduled it to September 12. The university has been training almost every day since July 31 and got two brawls over the last few weeks before the shutdown.
Members of the Pirate football team, as well as its personnel, undergo testing every Wednesday. Their head coach Mike Houston felt extremely encouraged after a “phenomenal week of testing,” and surely thought there would be a bit of luck in testing results since players can protect themselves much.
The uncertainty of Covid-19 testing results and contact tracing could impact the season once competitions start regularly. The Pirates can still fight fairly despite the possibility of multiple players being excused in short notice because they are one of those teams with “working players under multiple different scenarios during this preseason.”
Talking about the team’s performance, head coach Mike Houston said the players trained to play both offense and defense. Houston also added that they are working on it quite a bit.
“But there’s still a lot of position flexibility going on, especially along the offensive line, at receiver, and in the secondary.”East Carolina Pirates head coach Mike Houston