Mountain West to provide frequent COVID-19 tests to all member institutions this season

Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 4:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last week, the Mountain West announced plans to resume their 2020 football season after indefinitely postponing all fall sport competitions back in August — plans include a shortened eight-game schedule and frequent coronavirus testing.

The Mountain West announced that they are partnering with Quest Diagnostics to disperse testing supplies and protocols to all of the member institutions, easing one of the main concerns the conference had when they initially postponed the season.

This was a sigh of relief for UH Athletic Director David Matlin, who says having a solid plan for testing makes the decision to play easier.

“The big thing was the rapid testing and our COVID-19 testing plan, that was the difference maker.”Matlin told reporters in a conference call on Friday. “It has made a big difference, I know that Dr. Sladky can go into some of the specifics about that, but the fact that we have rapid testing now and that we also have a solid plan.”

The partnership with Quest Diagnostics include rapid result POC tests, administered to all student-athletes, coaches and staff three times a week — any positives that come from the POC tests will be confirmed by a PCR test.

Quest will handle all of the testing, says Rainbow Warriors team physician, Doctor Jonathan Sladky, who is now looking for the appropriate space to conduct the testing.

“Quest Diagnostics is helpful from multiple standpoints, they take care of all of the collection and running of the tests.” Dr. Sladky said. “So right now we’re just identifying testing space and everything, but they have the supplies that they need to be able to do the testing.”

Mountain West officials are finalizing their thresholds for competition interruption that match the NCAA resocialization guidelines, while also ironing out what their testing will actually look like.

“The Mountain West is still narrowing it down in terms of how it’s going to work exactly, but looking primarily at the rapid antigen testing for the speed of results and speed for being able to react to any positives that come up or anything like that.” Dr. Sladky said. “The machines that they are primarily looking at right now would be a nasal swab, so a nasal antigen swab.”

It was also announced that the conference will be fronting all of the costs for the testing program, easing some of the strain to UH’s recent financial struggles.

“I’ll be candid, without that it would have been really tough for us to do, that’s just the economic reality.” Matlin said. “So the conference using their reserve for this, their rainy day fund, really is a game changer and has made a big difference so we can do this in a fiscally responsible manner.”

The 'Bows opened training camp last week, gearing up for their season opener on October 24th.

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