Michigan Athletics on 2-Week Pause After COVID-19 Outbreak

The University of Michigan athletics department shut down for a two-week period over the weekend after confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant were found, according to a report from The Detroit Free Press.

The shutdown includes stoppages for all sports, including those that are currently in season like men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey, The Free Press wrote.

Photo: Ken Lund / Creative Commons

“It is our understanding the state did not recommend changes beyond athletics,” university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told The Free Press.

There are now five cases now confirmed with B.1.1.7, the highly contagious COVID-19 variant, in Washtenaw County, MI, the Free Press reported.

“Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel to The Free Press.

The athletic department noted in a press release that university public health officials have been working closely with local health departments on additional mitigation strategies.

“The university will be carefully considering additional mitigation measures. There are many unknowns that remain under investigation by U-M, local and state public health officials,” the school’s release said. “No determination has been made on how the pause may impact scheduled games beyond Feb. 7.”

The Free Press noted that the student journalists at the Michigan Daily were the first to report the story.

The new coronavirus variant transmits more easily and can lead to more positive cases, the health department said.

“We are watching this situation as closely as possible,” Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department, told The Free Press. “And we ask everyone to continue to do everything they can to prevent transmission — mask, distance, avoid crowds or gatherings, clean your hands frequently, and follow isolation or quarantine guidance carefully.”

To read the full story from The Detroit Free Press on the new variant of COVID-19 spreading through the Wolverine’s athletic department, click here