Wisconsin Football pauses all activities, cancels Nebraska game due to elevated team COVID-19 cases

Wisconsin football will pause all team activities for at least a week due to high COVID-19 cases on the team,

The Nebraska game will be ruled a “no contest.” It will not be made up, as the Big Ten schedule does not have any bye weeks built into it.

Athletic director Barry Alvarez confirmed six athletes and six staff members, including head coach Paul Chryst, have tested positive in the last five days. The team is awaiting more test results.

Alvarez said the team’s current percentage couple with the population risk puts them in a situation where conference protocols state that the team does not have to shut down for seven days, but it does have to enhance COVID-19 prevention.

However, Alvarez and Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank say it was up to their discretion looking at the situation to decide to cancel the game.

“The number of positives in that short a timeline, the chancellor and I felt we had an issue,” Alvarez said. “With 12 since the game, we felt it was appropriate to make the decision not to play.

“We were very excited about the fact we could play, and to turn around and not be able to play or practice right now is disappointing and frustrating. And I think your natural tendency is to get back on the field and get back at it, but that’s where you have to put priorities in order.”

The priority now is recovery. Big Ten protocols say coaches have to be out 10 days, and players like Graham Mertz are out 21 days to accommodate heart screening, since concerns exist that COVID-19 can lead to myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart muscle. But new research on that topic could lead to a reduction in the Big Ten’s 21-day policy.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published research on Monday that doctors have found that COVID-positive athletes with mild or no symptoms are developing myocarditis at a rate of less than 1 percent, and because of that they are no longer recommending any cardiac screenings for those with mild or no symptoms.

The CDC currently recommends 10 days of non-activity for those who test positive, which other college football conferences are using as guidance for their positive test protocol.

It is unclear if the Big Ten plans to update their health protocols.

Wisconsin’s next scheduled game is at home against Purdue Nov. 7.