Ohio University student-athletes returning to campus are being tested for COVID-19, eight athletes have tested positive for the disease.

Sixteen new cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the Athens City-County Health Department, more than doubling the previous one-day record increase of seven cases.

The county now stands at 79 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, 45 of which are active and 33 recovered. There was one death in mid-March. There have been eight hospitalizations.

According to the Health Department, confirmed cases are cases where a test has been given and came back positive, while probable is where the patient has the symptoms of COVID-19 and a clinical diagnosis has been made.

Ohio University announced on Tuesday that recently eight student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19. Due to privacy concerns, OU has not released any information regarding which sports the athletes were involved in, or their on-set symptom dates.

The eight cases were found through OU’s testing of student-athletes returning to Athens for summer training and conditioning camps. So far, 125 students have been tested from the football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs.

Student-athletes returning to the area were required by the university to self-quarantine for seven days to ensure that COVID-19 symptoms did not develop during that time.

“After a seven-day waiting period, student-athletes are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 before using campus facilities for workouts,” an OU release stated. “If a student-athlete is clear and has no active infection, the next step is to receive a pre-participation physical and medical clearance. Voluntary workouts and physical activity may begin after receiving clearance.”

According to the release all eight of the students who tested positive were asked to return to their permanent place of residency, where they are self-isolating and following medical orders.

The eight OU cases may or may not be counted in the Athens County total. The state counts the totals by a person’s residency, so if the student-athlete is from Athens County they will be counted, but if they are an out of county student, they will be counted in their home county’s total, however, an investigation will still be conducted in Athens regarding the student’s who tested positive.

“The Athens City-County Department of Health is conducting contact tracing based on any interactions the students had prior to the positive test, and any potentially exposed individuals will be asked to quarantine to help prevent spreading the virus,” the release read.

In light of the cases OU has temporarily suspended all training and conditioning to “to help ensure the health and safety of everyone on the Athens campus and in our surrounding communities.” The suspension will be for 48 hours to allow for contact tracing to be completed. During this time OU will be checking in with student-athletes to watch for any symptoms of COVID-19. After the 48 hour time-period is over the university says that they will reevaluate the situation.

The 16 new cases of COVID-19 add to the recent increase of cases in the county. Since June 30 there have been 46 cases reported. That is more in one week than Athens County has seen since the first case was diagnosed in March.

According to Athens City-County Health Department Health Commissioner and Medical Director Dr. James Gaskell, things may get worse due to the increased number of social gatherings that have been occurring in recent weeks, particularly with last weekend’s July 4 activities. The latest cases, however, are not due to July 4, due to the fact that there is normally a 14 day time-period before someone shows symptoms.

“We’re going to see more disease over the next week or two because of that,” Gaskell said.

The Health Department continues to recommend that people wash their hands frequently, observe social distancing protocols by keeping a 6-foot distance from others while in public, and wear a mask.

“The symptoms for COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, or loss of taste and smell. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, stay home and isolate yourself from others. If your symptoms require medical attention, call your physician, urgent care, or emergency room before arriving,” a release from the Health Department said.

Currently, COVID-19 tests are available to those who have symptoms. A test can be ordered by a physician, at the Emergency Room, Holzer, and CVS on State Street.

There are 60,181 total COVID-19 cases in Ohio, with 2,991 deaths.

In the counties surrounding Athens, the confirmed cases stand at:

  • Washington – 140
  • Morgan – 11
  • Perry – 37
  • Hocking – 79
  • Vinton – 22
  • Meigs – 12
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