Football, men’s water polo workouts paused further

Football and water polo practices are halted until at least Sept. 8 after nine positive tests between the sports. (Daily Trojan file photo)

USC’s football and men’s water polo teams will be kept out of action a while longer.

Workouts for the two sports have been paused until at least Sept. 8 pending the results of two rounds of testing: one Monday and one this upcoming Friday, according to an Athletic Department press release Tuesday.

One more student-athlete tested positive in a round conducted last Friday, bringing the total to nine positive cases between the two teams. All student-athletes who tested positive were isolated.

The Athletic Department had initially announced Aug. 26 that workouts would be paused for at least the next five days after the first eight of those positives had been identified through the then-weekly surveillance testing program. The most recent announcement means that the teams will have at minimum 13 total days away from team activities.

According to the first press release announcing the eight positive cases and reiterated by Monday’s announcement, contact tracing suggests that the virus came from off-campus activity amid a spike in the USC community as the fall semester began, and not as a result of on-campus activities or team training.

One hundred and twenty-five students tested positive for the coronavirus at USC Student Health in the most recently weekly total, between Aug. 23 and 29.

All USC workouts have taken place outdoors and without contact, as directed by Pac-12 Conference and public health guidelines.

Athletic Director Mike Bohn expressed confidence in the department’s “effective mitigation strategies” in the Aug. 26 press release.

USC has also altered its testing policy, according to Monday’s release, as it will now test all student-athletes twice per week compared to the original once per week schedule.

“USC Athletics will continue its stringent required daily mitigation protocols for all student-athletes who currently work out on campus, including completing symptom questionnaires, undergoing temperature checks, wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and sanitizing hands,” Monday’s press release read.

The three phases of USC’s return-to-campus plan involved football and men’s water polo as well as men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Workouts for the latter sports remain unaffected.

Between mid-June — when USC began testing student-athletes working out on campus from any of those six sports — and Friday, 16 student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus out of 1,127 tests conducted.