If there is a college football season, Wednesdays could be busy for medical staffs around the country.
The NCAA's latest guidance for playing college sports during the coronavirus pandemic recommends testing players once a week within 72 hours of competition. For typical Saturday football games, that means Wednesday would be the soonest athletes would be tested.
Is that enough for a team of about 100 athletes playing a contact sport to get through a season without major disruptions? Especially considering simply being exposed to someone who tests positive can land a player in quarantine for two weeks?
“Seventy-two hours leaves open a big window for somebody to test negative on Wednesday, become infectious on Thursday or Friday or Saturday morning and then go onto the field and spread it around,” said Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. "Not only (to) their team but their opponents, who then travel back where they came from."
The NCAA released updated recommendations on Thursday but also warned if national trends in the pandemic don't change there will be no football and other fall sports. Already, more than 300 Division I football games have been canceled or postponed.
There was more bad news Friday as the Colonial Athletic Conference became the fourth Championship Subdivision league to call off its fall football season, but with a twist. The CAA is allowing its members to compete in football on their own. Powerhouse James Madison and Elon are among those that plan to try.
The Atlantic 10 and America East, neither of which sponsors football, announced they are postponing fall sports, hoping to make them up in the second semester. Indiana became the latest major-college football program to suspend workouts after six participants tested positive.
All of this has happened while the U.S. sees a surge in reported COVID-19 cases.