5 Pitt students, 1 employee test positive for COVID-19; voluntary football workouts to continue

Pitt said voluntary football workouts would continue despite some students testing positive for COVID-19.

Five Pitt students and one employee have tested positive for COVID-19, officials announced Friday. All six individuals have been on campus within the last 14 days.

The Oakland campus is mostly empty, besides for a few Pitt football players who began a phased return on June 8, and quarantined for two weeks before beginning voluntary workouts. Panthers who had been medically cleared at the end of the quarantine period on June 22 were allowed to return to workouts that were strength-and-conditioning-based, supervised by strength and conditioning coaches and in groups capped at 10 athletes at a time. Virtual gatherings are also being used for larger meetings.

Pitt Athletics spokesperson E.J. Borghetti declined to comment on whether the six positive cases are connected to the Athletics department, and said Pitt football will not release information about positive cases on the team. He said any player or staff member who tests positive will receive medical treatment and enter isolation.  Contact tracing will be utilized to track anyone that infected players or staff come into contact with, Borghetti added.

Allegheny County is currently reeling from a surge in cases, with a single-day high of 96 new infections reported Sunday. Many of the cases were linked to young people visiting bars in Oakland and nearby South Side. County officials said Sunday afternoon they would walk back parts of the green phrase of reopening after the spike in cases.

Upon returning to campus, players were not required to sign waivers that absolved Pitt of liability should a student-athlete contract COVID-19, according to Borghetti. He said players were instead issued an acknowledgement letter that served several purposes. Borghetti said the letter documented that student-athletes were fully informed of the University’s procedures and protocols, made them aware of the risk that the virus presents, as well as provided detail on how the University and Pitt Athletics are working to create the safest environment possible and continuing to meet their health care needs.

Men’s and women’s basketball and soccer, as well as volleyball players and staff, are set to return to campus Monday in the next phase of Pitt’s staggered return of athletics to campus.

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