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Morgan State athletics shut down mid-February after roughly 40 positive coronavirus cases, including athletic director

Morgan State University shut down all athletic activity in mid-February after approximately 40 positive cases for the coronavirus emerged, including athletic director Edward Scott.

Scott said the athletic department was suspended beginning Feb. 15 after COVID-19 spread to 13 of 14 teams. Thirteen of those teams have since returned to competition except for the bowling program, which remains on pause.

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The only program that was unaffected was women’s basketball, which hosted Coppin State on Feb. 27-28. The cancellation of the team’s two-game series with Delaware State at Hill Field House in Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday was necessitated by the discovery of a positive test among the Hornets just hours before Wednesday’s scheduled 5 p.m. tipoff.

“It was serious, and it was real,” Scott said Wednesday night. “So we made the decision before we even got to approximately 40 cases in the department and in more than one team — in consultation with our doctors and our sports medicine folks and campus administration — to shut down the athletic department for 14 days to try to get a handle on things. That was an effective strategy because it has allowed us now after 14 days to get everybody except bowling up and running again.”

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Scott said the department continued to conduct testing three times per week during the halt. Officials from the Baltimore City Health Department were asked to walk through the university’s athletic facilities to provide consultation and offer recommendations.

Scott said some of the changes seem simple. Entire teams are not permitted into the primary locker room unless it is the day of a game. Times to visit the training room are scheduled for limited windows for each team.

“We just had to make some adjustments, especially to try to avoid cross-contamination among teams because that was honestly one of the scariest things for us,” he said. “So many teams were affected by it that we wanted to figure out, ‘OK, if we do have a cluster like this ever again, how do we keep the cluster from spreading across teams?’”

Even Scott was not immune to contracting the illness. He said woke up Feb. 17 at 5:30 a.m. to participate in his usual workout, but felt lethargic and a lack of energy. After showering and shaving, he drove to the university, but still did not feel well.

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Scott said he called an athletic trainer to meet him at an on-campus testing site, and 12 minutes after his test, the trainer called him to inform him that he had tested positive.

“For the first 36 hours or so, I had a fever of 100.5 [degrees]” he said. “I had chills, I was sweating. And then after the first 36 hours and after the fever broke, I went through probably 24 to another 36 hours of major body aches and pains. It felt like I had played football with [former NFL running back and current Bears coach] Tyrone Wheatley with no pads on. … So after about four days [total], those symptoms subsided, and it felt more like a chest cold. And then after about seven solid days, I felt almost back to normal.”

Scott said he was permitted to return to work on Feb. 27.

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