The University of Arizona, with coronavirus cases increasing in the state and in Pima County, which includes Tucson, announced Monday that it is shutting down its phased plan that was bringing athletes back to campus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have made this decision with campus and community partners to pause our re-entry process,” athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “The health, safety and wellbeing of all members of our community is our number one priority. We will continue to work in conjunction with campus partners and our local government agencies to support and evaluate a safe and healthy return to campus.”
Only one of the 83 student-athletes who already have returned to campus for voluntary workouts tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school. Even so, the athletic department decided to stop bringing in more student-athletes until further notice.
“Our mission has always been, first and foremost, the safety of our student-athletes, staff and community,” said Dr. Stephen Paul of the athletic department’s medical team. “Health and safety continue to be the guiding force in our re-entry process. We will continue to monitor the status and impact of COVID-19 in our community and our ongoing and safe training of student-athletes already on campus.
“Arizona Athletics will assess when to resume its re-entry process in collaboration with the guidelines and protocols of the University of Arizona, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, and state and local government agencies.”
On Sunday, 3,858 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Arizona, the state’s highest-ever total, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. That total included 439 new cases in Pima County, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
The county had seen 268 people die from COVID-19 overall, out of the state’s total of 1,588.
Arizona’s football team, coming off a 4-8 season that ended with seven consecutive losses, is scheduled to open play on Aug. 29 with a home game against Hawaii.