University of Houston Suspends Workouts after COVID-19 Outbreak among Athletes

The University of Houston announced on Friday that it was suspending in-person voluntary workouts for student-athletes “out of an abundance of caution” after 6 tested positive for COVID-19 this week. All 6 who tested positive were symptomatic.

While Houston is not the first school to have positive tests since the NCAA allowed voluntary in-person workouts to resume on June 1, the on campus outbreak comes in the context of a growing number of cases in the area.

According to New York Times data, Harris County, the 3rd-most populous county in the United States, has averaged 323 new daily coronavirus infections. That’s up about 50% from two weeks ago, though it’s still below the rate of New York City, the country’s hardest-hit area, which is averaging 435 daily new cases in spite of a dramatic slowing of spread there.

The Texas Medical Center in Houston, the largest medical complex in the world, is reporting a 20% increase in ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients. The center’s hospitals have seen new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations in 4 of the last 5 days.

At least 20 states have seen rises in coronavirus cases over the last month. The spike in Houston has led to local officials announcing that they were weighing options for reinstating a stay-at-home order, even as most of the country has lifted the heaviest such orders.

The University of Houston is the first school to suspend athletic activities after restarting them. Football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball teams were the first allowed back on campus.

Under NCAA rules, current allowed in-person activities are general conditioning activities without coaches. There are exceptions for swimming & diving coaches and strength coaches, who are allowed to supervise for safety purposes, but are not supposed to be actively coaching.

Unlike many schools, the University of Houston did not test student-athletes upon their return to campus. In wake of the outbreak on campus, however, the school says that it is “adapting its protocols to include repetitive COVID-19 testing as a component of any resumption of workouts on campus.”

The University of Houston women’s swimming & diving team has won 4 straight American Athletic Conference championships and had 5 swimmers qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championship meet before it was cancelled.

According to Houston Chronicle reported Joseph Duarte, the following schools have reported COVID-19 positive tests since reopening their campuses to student-athletes:

  • Auburn
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas State
  • Boise State
  • Florida State
  • Houston
  • Iowa
  • Marshall
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma State
  • Texas
  • Texas Tech
  • UCF

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had a call with the athletics directors of FBS schools in the state this week, where he said that he did intend to allow spectators at college football games in the fall, but that he didn’t anticipate allowing greater than 50% capacity. The state is home to 3 of the 9 largest college football stadiums in the country: Kyle Field at Texas A&M (102,733); the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (96,009); and Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium at Texas (95,594).

While most schools are focusing on a return to campus for fall sports and profitable sports (like basketball), a handful of schools do have swimming programs returning to campus for voluntary workouts. That includes Louisville, Texas A&M, and Delaware.

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TheSwammer

Interesting of UH to not test when the athletes first arrived, almost just believing they’d be fine. Now the question is, what happens when you bring the 30,000+ students back to campus?

Wait what?

Well, according to latest statistics (which have been consistently lowering the mortality rates, but let’s just use the current ones) the mortality rate (today) for age groups 10-19 is 0% and the mortality rate for 20-29 year olds is 0.1%, keeping in mind that the mortality rate for 20-24 could be far lower vs 25-29 which could skew mortality rates for the 10 year age range. But let’s keep going. So if we assume that 70% of the student body is 20+yrs old that means 21,000 student might fall in the 0.1% mortality category, this means that 21 students could die if we assume that 100% of the student body got infected. A 100% infection rate is 100% unlikely. So… Read more »

TheSwammer

Was a great argument honestly until the end. The student getting hit by a car doesn’t effect me. He doesn’t come to class and increase my risk of dying. If he has Covid and takes it to the lecture hall, he very well could spread it to a simple 10 people. One of those could be a professor who then takes it home to his/her significant other and they die because we just HAD to go to class. The fact that you believe we should just accept 10.5 students dying on a single campus for something that can be prevented is incredibly disgusting. UH is obviously taking this serious or else they wouldn’t have cancelled voluntary workouts. So my question… Read more »

Fish

I don’t think anyone has said the prospect of wide spread death of college students is the biggest concern. It is more public health, this is a highly contagious virus and an asymptomatic college student can unwillingly infect someone more susceptible. I am assuming the college students will go out to restaurants, bars, grocery shopping, gatherings, etc.
We don’t need to lock ourselves in a room for the next eight months until a vaccine, but it is appropriate to adjust our daily routine to both protect ourselves and others until under control (which it is not in Texas). If it means a couple more months training on your own, we can all manage.

IUkicker

Current mortality rates are fairly useless if 25% of cases are still pending an outcome in the first season of a novel respiratory virus. It also isn’t just about the mortality rate; it’s about resource management. A critically ill Covid patient uses a significant amount of available resources for a significant amount of time regardless of the outcome. Many of these patients do not recover or die quickly. Their illnesses are dragging on for multiple weeks which takes its toll on the health care system.

Wait what?

Good news then! In Texas our hospitals are at around 10% of capacity and we’ve been going down in hospital beds needed and ventilators needed since May 5th.

Fish

From today’s Houston Chronicle:
“On Friday as on Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 cases hit its high-water mark of 71 at Harris Health System, up from around 50 three weeks ago. At Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital’s intensive care unit, occupancy rate Friday was 104 percent; Ben Taub’s was 93 percent, according to officials.“

ct swim fan

I am not sure if you are serious or not. Most of these kids basically were locked down in their homes for a few months. Unless mom or dad were incredibly reckless, they virtually had no chance of getting sick much less dying. We should not accept any illness or death if they are preventable. There are no acceptable losses as far as I am concerned.

Scott

Working for a major university, I can say that they are far less concerned about the students knowing these stats. Our universities are worried though about our aging faculty/staff members. There is a huge population of workers that have not yet retired and are very susceptible to getting the virus. This is the truth b/c it was already discussed here.

Swim fan

I live in Texas (Dallas area) and a lot of people here in the state are just going about business and social life as if the pandemic is over. I’m married to a first responder so I always wear a mask if I need to go out (grocery store, etc), not for myself, but because my risk of exposure is high and I don’t want to infect others. Our family is still practicing social distancing and mostly staying home except for necessary outings (food, doctor appts, etc). But this is not the norm – we’ve received several graduation party invitations recently, which we declined. Hospitalizations are on the rise, but few seem to acknowledge it or care. It will be… Read more »

Anonymous Texan

I find it interesting that you are blaming this on unnecessary outings and graduation parties and people being too optimistic. You might not be aware (I live in the Houston area) but about 10 days ago we a huge protest in downtown Houston with almost 60,000 in attendance. I don’t know… but this might have something to do with the recent spike in cases.

Mike

I don’t see them blaming anything on any one, rather stating the conditions that they see on the ground and expressing concern.

Anonymous Texan

Then that is my error, I guess I misunderstood the first sentence where the poster stated “a lot of people here in the state are just going about business and social life as if the pandemic is over.” I know that where I live in the Houston area that the “pandemic” is not over, masks are worn by most people who are out at work or other functions and social distancing is being followed as much as possible. Things are not “business as usual” where I live. We are barely able to hold graduation, strength and conditioning camps at the high school have been severely limited and our club teams are barely back in the water with strict rules for… Read more »

Anonymous Texan

So am I to assume you think I am not being truthful? I was at HEB this morning and 9 out of 10 shoppers had a mask. But realize this might not be typical. What is absolutely factual is that Typhoon Texas in Katy is open by reservation only, UIL regulations for Strength and Condition camps are limited to 10 students per group if they are allowed inside, I believe it is up to 15 if they stay outside exclusively but with the weather as bad as it has been I believe most high schools are doing 10 per group. Graduation has to be outdoor if it is happening in the month of June and all students and families must… Read more »

SwimMom

I don’t disagree with you. I’m sure the schools are following uil rules and the water park is being careful. But people in general are not being very careful. They are careful in situations where they are forced to be careful.

TXSWIMDAD

This is not consistent with my experience in Houston in the medical center and Rice Village area. The majority of people out and about on the streets and in stores do not have on masks.

Towelie

Chick fil a is drive through only?!? Oh the horror

Wait what?

This latest headline of a massive increase in positive cases in Texas is 100% fear mongering. The primary driver for increased positives is increased testing. In the month of May the commercial lab capacity in Texas was roughly 30,000 tests/day. In June we are now up to 80,000 tests/day capacity. As we tests more and more people we will find more and more positives. Now that hospitals have opened services for non life threatening (elective) surgery, they have implemented the requirement for pre surgery covid testing. Guess what? We find even more cases. We already know from the case study in San Diego that a randomized antibody test revealed that more that 1/3 of the tested population came back positive.… Read more »

Swim fan

The data that it being used accounts for the increase in testing. It’s the rate of hospitalization that is markedly up from a month ago. Yes, there is an increase in testing (a good thing), and Texas is also hiring thousands of folks to be contact tracers, also a good thing. But the concern is the sudden uptick in Covid patients in hospital beds. That’s the true indicator of whether the problem is lessening, flat lining, or worsening. In Texas, unfortunately our numbers are climbing, in spite of increased testing and contact tracing. It’s not fear mongering, it’s data and science. It is what it is, hoping those numbers start going down sooner rather than later or it may negatively… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
TXSWIMDAD

You are focusing on the wrong statistic. It is correct that the number of positive tests is dependent on testing. The statistics to follow are COVID hospitalizations, ICU occupancy, deaths. These are looking a bit concerning at the moment.

HISWIMCOACH

Well stated Anonymous Texan.

SwimMom

Houston area resident. I will say by and large most people are no longer giving covid-19 much of a second thought. They are eating at restaurants, going to the mall, the beach and hanging out with friends in large groups. Generally with no mask unless required. I know this because I see it on my social media every single day. I see people at the grocery store wearing masks but the percentage is way down from 6 weeks ago. I have seen tons of mini-prom parties, large graduation gatherings, etc. I went to the outlet mall for a bday gift (mask on) and even though the store required masks the majority of the people had them pulled down under their… Read more »

Towelie

yeah man. Now’s when I get my halloween stuff and I can’t get my halloween stuff. How am I supposed to get my halloween stuff. What!?!

ScottishDragon

It takes at least 14days to show signs. Are you sure you aren’t talking about the republican protests demanding haircuts that happened 3-4weeks ago instead and without masks?

bodybyfood

Not “at least,” but up to 14. Incubation period is thought to be 2-14 days, meaning you’ll show symptoms in that time. Average is about 5 days, and 95% of people show symptoms by 10-12 days.

Anonymous Texan

I hope this is a suitable website.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

Fever or chills
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fatigue
Muscle or body aches
Headache
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Diarrhea
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Awsi Dooger

This pandemic has put flagrant stupidity and ignorance on full display. I can’t believe any state or any area was moronic enough to open early. There hasn’t been anything like this in a full century. That might be just a slight hint to err high and not low. Just a slight hint. From the outset anyone who downplayed this was going to be wrong and wrong again. Yet one ignoramus after another has been determined to buck all semblance of logic and try to pretend it was merely overblown flu, or whatever. We’ve had more than our share of nutcases here throughout. Loud and idiotic. It’s not exactly difficult to know which media they absorb. Now we’re doubling down on… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn

When Greg Abbott breaks out Nolan Ryan to do a PSA for Texans — “Don’t be a Knucklehead” — you know what @SWIMFAN is saying to be true. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jH8gCE2x3c&feature=youtu.be

Guerra

There was no doubt as the protests and the riots fade there would be an immediate media pivot back to ‘O my god, the coronavirus is still here.’ And that is exactly what has happened. Pay attention to the death rate. Open up the country and have practice. We will be fine.

ScottishDragon

You need to not only attend college, but high school and even elementary as well. You are what’s wrong with this country. Willful ignorance and pro-plague.

Justin Thompson

I just chalk that up to media telling us daily how bad things are. Before Covid they were trying to convince us that record low unemployment and a record high stock market were a bad thing while also continuing to make up stories about their political foes.

Ol' Longhorn

Pro tip: a Recession is a bad thing. The media don’t declare that, economists do. Oh, and that whole continuing to die at the rate of 2000 a week in the U.S. is also a bad thing. But hey, watch cartoons.

Justin Thompson

Pro tip? I thought you worked in a hospital and now you are an economist? Pay attention. I was talking about pre-covid so your comment about a recession doesn’t apply.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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