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Wisconsin football to decide Tuesday if it can play Purdue Nov. 7 as COVID-19 cases rise

Wisconsin will decide on Tuesday if it can play Purdue on Nov. 7, as COVID-19 cases have risen to 22 within the program, athletic director Barry Alvarez told Rece Davis on College GameDay on Saturday morning.

Alvarez said he received a report Saturday morning of 10 staff members and 12 players with active cases of the virus — seven more than the program reported on Thursday. The positive tests recently received include those of head coach Paul Chryst and quarterback Graham Mertz.

“We’re still having additions in our cases, and that’s something we’ve got to get our arms around and control it,” said Alvarez, who had a negative PCR test on Thursday.

Because Chryst tested positive, he is required to isolate for 10 days, per CDC and Big Ten guidelines. The school said in a statement Saturday that the earliest Chryst can return to work, should he remain symptom-free, is Thursday.

The Badgers on Wednesday announced they were pausing all football activities for seven days and canceled Saturday’s game against Nebraska. The athletic department secured rooms at a local hotel for football players who have not tested positive to try to further separate those players and mitigate the spread of the virus. According to the school, each of those players has his own room, and the rooms are all located in the same area of the hotel to limit exposure to others.

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According to Big Ten protocol, players who test positive can return to practice or competition in no sooner than 21 days. Alvarez said Saturday it’s possible that could change, as a recent JAMA study has altered its cardiology guidelines “for the competitive athlete,” according to ESPN’s Tracy Wholf.

The study reads in part:

“Self-isolation has been reduced from 14 to 10 days from the time of documented infection per CDC guidelines. As such, we believe it is reasonable to reduce complete exercise abstinence in cases of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection to 10 days from the date of the positive test result (Figure 3). Following this restriction, a slow and carefully monitored resumption of activity, ideally under the direction of a certified athletic trainer, is appropriate.”

“Several athletic directors have looked at that number and thought it was a little high, but none of us are doctors,” Alvarez said of the 21 days. “It’s not our decision to make. That’s for our medical professionals to make, but I’m sure we’ll take a look at it. It’s still going to be a medical decision.”

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