As the Big Ten was on the cusp of announcing the reinstatement of the football season, nearly 12% of the 376 Michigan State student-athletes tested for COVID-19 were found to have been infected.
The 45 positive results were returned after samples were taken Sept. 7-14, the university said Friday.
Meanwhile, there was only one case among the 24 staff members checked for the novel coronavirus during the same period.
Last Saturday, Ingham County health officials urged Michigan State students to quarantine after an outbreak in East Lansing. Mandatory lockdowns were also issued for large properties in the area.
The orders came shortly before the Big Ten announced Wednesday that football would return with stringent protocols.
Under the new guidelines, teams would have to stop practice for at least a week if the positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average exceeded 5% among players and 7.5% within the entire program. The last number will be determined by dividing the number of positive individuals by the total population at risk.
“I do think that it's going to be very, very critical that our student-athletes, our coaches, everybody that might be around our team is following all the rules; wearing their masks, being distant from each other when possible, washing their hands regularly, all the sort of basic things, staying away from parties and large gatherings,” Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said this week. “And frankly, even small gatherings. Some of our student-athletes that have tested positive recently weren't at events that were 100 people at a bar, it was three or four friends getting together in an apartment to play cards. But even those seemingly innocent things can pass the virus.
“And I think, frankly, that's a message for everybody in our community. We need to be responsible. And if we're responsible, then we'll be able to field a team and play the games. And if we're not, we won't and we'll have to deal with the consequences of that.”
Michigan State's football team has already been scarred by COVID-19, having endured a two-week quarantine that began in July.
Since early June, the university has administered more than 1,950 COVID-19 tests on student-athletes and athletic department staff members. Ninety-nine positive results have been returned.
"We trust our medical folks, and we're going to follow our protocols to the best of our ability," Spartans football coach Mel Tucker said. "Behavior modification is something that we talk about constantly with our players, and then we're going to move forward boldly and be ready to adapt and change and adjust as needed going throughout this season."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State athletics 12% positivity rate in latest COVID-19 testing