The special teams unit rushes across the field (copy)

The Missouri athletic department announced Thursday that five individuals, including four student-athletes, have tested positive for COVID-19 since athletes began returning to campus for voluntary workouts on June 4.

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Missouri Athletics tweeted Thursday afternoon that, of the COVID-19 tests the department has administered to student-athletes and staff since June 8, five came back positive.

In total, the department has administered 308 tests since June 8, meaning 1.6% of all tests came back positive. MU also said four of those five positives were asymptomatic.

The department also confirmed to the Missourian on Thursday that four of the five individuals whose tests were positive are student-athletes. Nick Joos, a department spokesperson, said Missouri will not be releasing information about the teams on which those student-athletes participate.

“We are working with MU Health and local health officials as we continue to navigate this situation,” Joos said in an email.

According to Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 211 of the 308 tests administered were to student-athletes, meaning 1.89% of tests administered to student-athletes came back positive.

Missouri athletics told the Missourian on June 7 that the department did not “anticipate notifying anyone other than the county” of positive test results.

When asked why Missouri would not be notifying anyone beyond Boone County of positive test results, Joos cited the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and concern that positive tests in a small group of individuals would make it easy for someone who tests positive to be identified.

According to previous Missourian reporting, HIPAA protects individual medical records from being disclosed by medical healthcare professionals.

Joos did not provide comment Thursday about why Missouri decided to disclose these results at this time.

Although Missouri tweeted Thursday that it has been administering tests since June 8, associate athletic director of sports medicine Rex Sharp said earlier this month that the initial round of testing of returning student-athletes and staff began June 4 and wrapped up June 7. Joos told the Missourian on Thursday that Missouri did begin testing within the timeframe which Sharp mentioned, and that the date of June 8 was used in Thursday’s tweet since it was the official start date of voluntary workouts.

Since June 8, Missouri has been bringing student-athletes and staff back to campus in waves. The first wave, which arrived June 8, included the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs. The second wave, which arrived June 15, included the cross country, women’s soccer and volleyball programs. The third included athletes and staff in gymnastics, men’s and women’s swim and dive, and wrestling. They were allowed to report to campus June 22.

This means student-athletes and staff from 10 Missouri sports have been tested to this point.

The last wave of student-athletes and staff, which includes every remaining sport, is allowed to come back to campus July 6.

When asked earlier this month to specify what Missouri football would do if someone within the program tested positive, coach Eli Drinkwitz said contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, as well as contacting family members, would take place.

“We’re going to make sure they’re safe,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve got a protocol in place to check on them every single day to make sure they are fed, to make sure that they are isolated but not alone. And then we’re going to make sure that we do contact tracing throughout, wherever it might be, whatever the CDC says.”

Missouri is far from the first FBS school to disclose that it has had positive test numbers. To this point, at least 25 schools have had positive test results disclosed in some form, including SEC member schools Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

With MU’s five positive cases, at least 11 SEC athletic departments have had a positive test for COVID-19 or its antibodies since student-athletes returned to campus in June.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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