A week after the football team returned to campus, Rutgers is reporting cases of coronavirus with some players.
Coach Greg Schiano disclosed Monday during a conference call with the media two players has tested positive for the virus. It was his first availability since the team was allowed to return for voluntary workouts.
Schiano said players and coaches were tested before the team returned on June 15, either with mail-in tests or after being tested locally. One of the positive tests came from those samples and the player was not allowed to return to campus and is being isolated at home.
The second positive test came from a sample taken when the players reported. That player was isolated and three players who had contact with him were put in quarantine.
“I think it’s very real to say you cannot reduce risk to zero,” Schiano said. “That we all understand.”
Schiano said players and coaches have been instructed in the importance of social distancing, wearing a mask, washing their hands.
One of the reasons he was a little late to his conference call Monday was because he was reinforcing those guidelines for some players.
“We have to hold each other accountable,” said Schiano, who admitted he and the program are in uncharted territory.
Schiano said the university has a protocol for allowing players who test positive to return. It includes a non-positive test and an evaluation of the positive test, including whether the players showed symptoms such as a fever.
Schiano said players and coaches underwent a third screening on Monday.
Incoming freshman players also were allowed on campus on Monday and they were tested and put in a separate dormitory. They will not be integrated with the rest of the team until they pass a second COVID-19 test.
The workouts are voluntary and Schiano said some players have elected to skip them.
Schiano was hired in December to start a second stint as Rutgers' coach. Chris Ash was fired early last season and replaced on an interim basis by Nunzio Campanile. The Scarlet Knights were 2-10 last season and have won nine games in the past four years.
Schiano would not address the possibility of playing the 2020 season in the spring. He said he is preparing to open the season in early September and would adjust if that plan was changed.
For now, he is trying to learn as much as he can about the virus. He admits there are times he feels he has not done enough but that's a learning experience.
Since returning, the players have held some remote meetings, met with their position coaches and worked out as a group on conditioning.
“It’s good to see these guys and to have one on one conversations," Schiano said. “I don’t know where it’s all going. Hopefully we’re going to end up having a great season and America’s going to have something to get behind. And that’s my prayers. But most importantly, that people stay safe and do the right thing.”
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