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Maryland suspends all athletic activities after spike in COVID-19 cases in latest testing

The University of Maryland has suspended “all athletics training activities” after a spike in coronavirus cases, the athletic department announced Thursday.

The school said that 501 student-athletes were tested for COVID-19 on Monday and Tuesday, returning 46 positive tests affecting 10 teams. Student-athletes will be tested again on Tuesday.

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The athletic department brought student-athletes back to campus in June for summer workouts and periodically released testing updates. Cumulatively, the department has announced 63 positive cases among 2,191 tests administered, a positivity rate of 2.9%.

“As we experience an unprecedented year in college athletics and across the entire country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to keep the health, safety and welfare of our student-athletes and staff first and foremost,” Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said in a news release. “The most recent testing results have revealed an uptick in positive tests among Maryland student-athletes. Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily pausing all workouts for our programs. We continue to educate our student-athletes and staff about best practices and protocols to be safe this time. We look forward to when our student-athletes can safely return to workouts and then re-start their seasons.”

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Maryland last released COVID-19 testing updates Aug. 4, reporting zero positive cases for the second straight week. At the time, the school had 12 positive results among 964 administered tests, a positivity rate of 1.2%. Maryland temporarily paused its football workouts in July after nine individuals tested positive for COVID-19 before resuming them later.

The Big Ten Conference in August announced it would postpone fall sports, citing health concerns with the coronavirus. While the Pac-12 also announced the postponement of its fall sports season, the remaining Power 5 leagues — the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 — are planning to begin their seasons this month.

Maryland continued to allow football players to work out and those who choose to do so have been tested for COVID-19.

After several conferences postponed their fall sports seasons, the NCAA Division I Council in August approved a 12-hour weekly practice schedule consisting of strength and conditioning, team, position and individual meetings and film review. Teams are permitted to spend a maximum of five hours conducting on-field activities with helmets.

The University of Maryland resumed classes this week, many of which are online. The university also announced a COVID-19 dashboard to provide frequent data on the prevalence of COVID-19 within the campus community. According to the dashboard, the university has registered a positivity rate of 0.26%. Students and staff returning to campus were required to be tested for COVID-19 in advance.

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