Arizona pauses plan for athletes’ return to campus amid COVID-19 surge



Arizona paused its plan to bring athletes back to campus Monday, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases in Pima County and the coronavirus pandemic‘s impact on the local healthcare system.

On June 15, the school started bringing athletes back for voluntary workouts in groups of approximately 20, with new groups arriving each week. Arizona said Monday that it has received only one positive COVID-19 result after testing 83 athletes the past few weeks.

Arizona is awaiting clarification on whether it can continue workouts with athletes already on campus after Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday ordered all gyms in the state to close for 30 days as a result of the COVID-19 spike. Arizona reported 3,858 positive COVID-19 cases Sunday, marking its highest single-day total and the seventh report of more than 3,000 cases in the previous 10 days. Pima County now has more than 7,500 confirmed cases.

“The health, safety and well-being of all members of our community is our number one priority,” Arizona athletics director Dave Heeke said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to work in conjunction with campus partners and our local government agencies to support and evaluate a safe and healthy return to campus.”

Arizona’s football team hoped to start formal activities July 6 as it prepares for a scheduled season opener on Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

“Our mission has always been, first and foremost, the safety of our student-athletes, staff and community,” Dr. Stephen Paul of C.A.T.S. Medical Services said in a prepared statement. “Health and safety continue to be the guiding force in our re-entry process. We will continue to monitor the status and impact of COVID-19 in our community and our ongoing and safe training of student-athletes already on campus. Arizona athletics will assess when to resume its re-entry process in collaboration with the guidelines and protocols of the University of Arizona, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, and state and local government agencies.”



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