IOWA CITY — On the same day the University of Iowa announced Monday it was suspending ticket sales for the 2020 football season, it also announced nine positive COVID-19 tests in the athletics department.
The department, according to a news release, “conducted 40 COVID-19 tests for the week of June 15-21, 2020. Nine positive tests and 31 negative tests have been received.”
Since testing began May 29, Iowa has reported 12 positive tests and 374 negative tests.
“While we have experienced an increase in positive tests, almost all are related to individuals who had been in quarantine due to our contact tracing and developed symptoms,” Dr. Andrew Peterson, UI associate professor and head team physician, said in the release. “Our overall process, including testing and daily health screening, is working as expected.”
The Washington Post reported Monday that playing college football this fall will be a tougher task than starting the NFL season, citing a former commissioner with the Food and Drug Administration.
“I think the professional leagues can do a lot to create a bubble around the players and test them and put in place measures to control what they do off the field as well,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “I think it’s going to be much more difficult for colleges to do that. First of all to implement the testing — they don’t have the resources to do it — but also to control behavior off the field.”
Iowa noted all protocol established by the athletics department and medical staff, including contact tracing procedures, is being followed. “This mandatory protocol also includes isolation for the individuals who test positive, and quarantine for those individuals who might have been exposed to someone with the virus,” the release noted.
Five infectious disease experts told the Washington Post frequent testing of all players, regardless of whether they show symptoms, is the key to prevention.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence you’re seeing the outbreaks (on college teams) in states where you already have outbreaks,” Gottlieb said. “I think this week is going to be a pivotal week for us to get a picture on where this is headed in states like Florida, Arizona and Texas and whether they’re tipping over into exponential growth or not. The problem with exponential growth is that everything looks sort of OK until all of a sudden it doesn’t.”
As for Iowa football tickets, the school announced only individuals who have renewed season tickets and completed per-seat contributions by June 30 will be included in potential Kinnick Stadium seating plans.
“Hawkeye fans are excited for the upcoming season and we truly appreciate their continued enthusiasm and support,” athletics director Gary Barta said in the news release. “With the current information available, we needed to pause additional sales and start focusing on reduced capacity seating models based on our season ticket holders. We anticipate finalizing this by late July and will share with our fans.
“The option of having the ability to accommodate as many Hawkeye fans who are comfortable attending a game in Kinnick Stadium is still one of the scenarios.”
Iowa also announced the Hawkeye Express, which provides fans train transportation from a satellite parking lot in Coralville to Kinnick Stadium, will not be operational for the 2020 football season.
Ticketing and parking for all venues, beginning this fall, will move to mobile-only.
“Mobile ticketing will provide contactless entry to our venues, while also giving greater flexibility and ticket security,” Barta said.
Fans will need to have a smartphone or watch to access events. Ticket holders who do not have access to a smartphone should contact the athletics ticket office to make arrangements.
Iowa also announced “in the event the 2020 season is disrupted,” future credit or ticket refunds will be provided.