Maryland football moved into The Hotel last Wednesday after a spike in cases caused the team to pause activities and cancel its game against Ohio State, with the hopes of controlling the spread to get back on the field as soon as possible.
But after transitioning back to normal living arrangements Sunday, another uptick in positive coronavirus cases forced the program to cancel this weekend’s game against Michigan State, pausing team activities for a second time.
Assistant Director of the University Health Center Dr. Yvette Rooks, Maryland athletic director Damon Evans and head football coach Mike Locksley provided an update following Thursday’s decision on where the program stands.
“As we all know, this is a day-to-day operation in dealing with COVID. COVID is very tricky and very slippery,” Rooks said. “[The positivity rate] actually went down over the weekend and then we saw an uptick earlier this week.”
Locksley, who tested positive on Wednesday, said that he was experiencing minor symptoms and is isolating at home. Those who tested positive within the program have experienced common cold-like symptoms, according to Rooks.
Contact tracing at Maryland has worked well and it was determined that the outbreak stemmed from three sources, though Rooks declined to specify those.
The players have a clear understanding the severity of the virus, noting that some athletes are now even wearing masks inside to protect themselves, according to Rooks. There has also been a big emphasis on trying to avoid ‘direct contact,’ which is described as being within shouting distance from a potentially infectious individual for approximately 15 minutes without a mask on.
Rooks examines the positivity rate of testing results each morning and noted that cases went down Thursday. If things continue in the right direction, she said the team could possibly have some sort of fitness training over the weekend.
Locksley stressed the importance of such conditioning in order to have his team properly prepared to play, as well as having at least two practices before a game.
“Our goal is to get back,” Evans said. “We want to get back in the safest possible manner to make sure that we’re looking out for the health, the safety and the wellness of every student-athlete. We’re committed to getting back. We’re committed to doing things to get everything under control so our student-athletes in the sport of football can get back to doing what they love to do, and that’s playing this game.”
A return to team activities and eventually competition will be a day-to-day call by Rooks as she continues to monitor test results.
“As a coach and a leader of the program it’s my job to get the team prepared to play,” Locksley said. “Whenever I’m given the go ahead by Dr. Rooks and the medical people, I’ve got to come up with the best possible plan to have the team prepared to go out and compete at a high level.”