Notre Dame football halts practice for second straight day as 5 more players test positive

Eric Hansen I South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND Notre Dame football’s self-imposed hiatus from practice stretched to two days Thursday after its cumulative numbers from two rounds of COVID-19 testing this week rolled in on Thursday.

And the only football-related guarantee for Friday so far is that there will be a third round of testing this week staged that morning, per an athletic department release. Practice will resume when the team medical staff recommends that it’s safe to do so.

The Irish are scheduled to open the 2020 season three weeks from Saturday, on Sept. 12, against Duke at Notre Dame Stadium.

The entire 116-man ND roster (including walk-ons) was tested both Monday and Wednesday. The cumulative result from those 232 tests was five positives. All five of those players are in isolation.

Another six players, identified through contact tracing, are in quarantine.

From mid-June until the general student population began returning to campus on Aug. 3, the ND football team registered just two positive tests. Since the students’ return, they’ve added seven, for a total of nine positives.

That still calculates to a 1.1% positivity rate, far lower than the state of Indiana’s rolling seven-day average of 7.7%.

Fall-semester in-person classes began on campus on Aug. 10. Just over a week later, on Tuesday, university president Rev. John I. Jenkins announced that beginning Wednesday the school was pivoting to online learning for two weeks.

A surge in COVID-19 cases among the general student population was cited as the reason for the move. And if by Sept. 2, there wasn’t a significant drop in cases and positivity rate, Jenkins promised to send the students home for the rest of the semester.

Wednesday’s student testing numbers, revealed Thursday at noon on the university’s coronavirus dashboard, indicated 75 new positives in a record 494 tests. The daily positivity rate of 15.2% was a drop from the record high 20.6% from Tuesday and 19.5% percent on Monday. The totals since Aug. 3 are 304 positive cases in 1,780 tests.

For the first time in nine days the cumulative student positivity rate didn’t rise. In fact, it very slightly dropped, from 17.2% to 17.1%.

Jenkins initially gave the football team permission to continue practicing on Tuesday, but citing “an abundance of caution,” the athletic department on Wednesday called off Wednesday’s practice and suggested Thursday’s might not take place either.

On Thursday, that became a reality.

The Irish began training camp on Aug. 12.

Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins speaks to the Irish football team at their first training camp session on Aug. 12. On Thursday the university announced five players tested positive for COVID-19 and practice was suspended for another day.