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University of Hawaii football team to expand COVID-19 testing program

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / JAN. 21 
                                University of Hawaii football coach Todd Graham

    STAR-ADVERTISER / JAN. 21

    University of Hawaii football coach Todd Graham

Over the next two weeks, the University of Hawaii plans to expand COVID-19 testing to include all of its football players.

There are more than 100 players on the Rainbow Warriors’ summer roster.

“We, as a university – our team doctors and our administration — wanted to make sure we tested everybody, so in the next 12 days, the next two weeks, we’ll be testing all of our players to get a baseline test and then progressing through the season,” head coach Todd Graham said in a video statement released by the athletic department.

This summer, the athletic department had been following state and NCAA guidelines in conducting suspicion-based testing on an undisclosed number of players and coaches. The suspicion-based tests were in addition to the daily screenings — temperature readings and questionnaires on exposure risks and symptoms — that were performed before a player or coach was allowed to participate in on-campus activities. None of the suspicion-based tests has produced a positive result for the coronavirus, school officials reported. UH did not disclose the number of tests administered.

Late last week, the NCAA recommended “surveillance” testing for 25% to 50% of a football team during this second phase of the offseason training period. This phase, which began last Friday, added walk-through sessions to weight training and conditioning drills.

A UH spokesman said the university is seeking to go beyond that NCAA’s surveillance-testing recommendation and test all the UH football players over the next two weeks. The tests are likely to be administered with small groups over several days. The players will not have to pay for the tests, the spokesman said. The exact costs of the tests have not been determined. UH will release the figures and payment breakdowns when they are finalized.

Since July 6, when the campus was opened to NCAA-permitted workouts, the Warriors have adhered to social-distancing measures. Meetings have been conducted outdoors in front of several players seated apart. The rest of the players watched videocasts of the meetings on outdoor monitors on the campus. Walk-through sessions are divided into small groups, with players spaced during drills. Players also are kept at a distance during weight training.

“Football is important and playing the season,” Graham said in the video. “We want to do that. We want those things to happen. The most important thing is the safety and well being of our players, our staff, and our families.”

While testing is important, Graham said, the Warriors need to be diligent in other aspects of keeping healthy.

Doctors have made it a point to make sure “we’re communicating, making sure we’re wearing masks, make sure we’re doing the proper medical screening,” Graham said, “and make sure we’re not going and putting ourselves in situations and places we don’t need to be, and that’s around a large gathering of people.”

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For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.

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