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25 Duke student-athletes test positive for COVID-19

Duke made its first announcement regarding student-athlete COVID-19 test results Friday.
Duke made its first announcement regarding student-athlete COVID-19 test results Friday.

Editor's note: The headline has been changed to clarify that 25 total student-athletes have tested positive, and that nine are currently in isolation.

Nearly three weeks since student-athletes first started arriving on campus, Duke has released COVID-19 testing results.

In an official release Friday evening, Duke announced that nine student-athletes are currently in mandatory isolation due to positive COVID-19 tests, and that 16 other student-athletes who had also previously tested positive have gone through the required isolation and have been cleared to return to regular activity.

The release added that 700 tests were administered to 309 student-athletes, coaches and staff since student-athletes first began arriving on campus. No coaches or staff have tested positive, and no teams have paused team-related activities due to testing results.

The majority of student-athletes testing positive were positive upon arrival to campus, according to the release, and all were asymptomatic or experienced minor symptoms. No student-athletes required additional medical care, with treatment including symptom monitoring, rest and over the counter medication.

“We are foremost concerned for player safety, and with finding ways to balance the desire to have a vibrant athletic culture on campus, with the reality that COVID-19 is a highly transmissible infection,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe, associate professor of medicine at Duke and chair of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Medical Advisory Group for COVID-19, said in the release. “To that end, an aggressive testing strategy is paramount -- identifying positive asymptomatic student-athletes, who may be capable of inadvertently transmitting the virus, is crucial.  

"Duke is finding and isolating cases early in the season, prepared to quarantine when necessary, and by combining a regular batch testing program with multi-pronged mitigation strategies, we believe athletics can and will be successful at Duke.”  

The release also went on to explain Duke's testing protocols to combat the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

“Everyone must contribute to keeping COVID to a minimum on campus,” Wolfe said. “We will all need to be prepared to acknowledge the risks and wear masks and distance where we can; to be prepared to listen to contact tracing experts; and to be a part of our rigorous testing platform that will roll out across campus, as it has done for athletics. Things will feel very different. Regular testing and vigilance around health and safety protocols are going to be crucial for the fall semester to be successful and safe.” 

Duke was one of the last schools in the ACC to have athletes return to campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with a phased return beginning with the football team July 12. 

In comparison, North Carolina had its football players return to campus between June 12 and June 29. By July 8, the school announced that 37 student-athletes, coaches and athletic department staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 out of 429 performed tests. The Tar Heels paused workouts immediately before reopening their weight room July 16.

While schools like North Carolina have had to experience setbacks due to COVID-19 outbreaks on campus, other teams, such as Notre Dame, have avoided such issues. Through July 20, two Fighting Irish football players had tested positive for the virus out of 356 administered tests.

For nearly three weeks it remained to be seen which end of the spectrum Duke's testing results would fall on, with the team releasing no updates prior to Friday's announcement.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

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