Update on COVID-19 Testing for Duke Student-Athletes 

Update on COVID-19 Testing for Duke Student-Athletes 

Duke University’s COVID-19 testing program has administered 700 tests to 309 student-athletes, coaches and staff in the first three weeks since student-athletes began returning to campus for voluntary practice.  

As of July 31, 2020, nine student-athletes are in mandatory isolation due to positive COVID-19 tests. Sixteen others who earlier tested positive went through the required isolation period and have been cleared by physicians for return to regular activity. No coaches or staff have tested positive, and no teams have paused team-related activities due to testing results. 

The majority of student-athletes testing positive were positive upon arrival.  All were asymptomatic or experienced minor symptoms, and no student-athletes required additional medical care. Treatment consisted of symptom monitoring, rest and over the counter medication. 

 “We are foremost concerned for player safety, and with finding ways to balance the desire to have a vibrant athletic culture on campus, with the reality that COVID-19 is a highly transmissible infection,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe, associate professor of medicine at Duke and chair of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Medical Advisory Group for COVID-19. “To that end, an aggressive testing strategy is paramount -- identifying positive asymptomatic student-athletes, who may be capable of inadvertently transmitting the virus, is crucial.  Duke is finding and isolating cases early in the season, prepared to quarantine when necessary, and by combining a regular batch testing program with multi-pronged mitigation strategies, we believe athletics can and will be successful at Duke.”  

 Duke’s testing programs follows the protocols set by the ACC COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. 

 With undergraduate and graduate students returning to campus in August for the start of the fall semester, Duke has set up a comprehensive COVID-19 testing protocol which includes encouragement of testing and quarantining prior to traveling to Durham,  mandatory testing on arrival before access to campus is permitted, pooled community screening of students, faculty and staff, daily symptom monitoring, and an extensive contact tracing program. The University has set aside more than 300 beds to be used for quarantining on-campus students if necessary. 

 “Everyone must contribute to keeping COVID to a minimum on campus,” said Wolfe. “We will all need to be prepared to acknowledge the risks and wear masks and distance where we can; to be prepared to listen to contact tracing experts; and to be a part of our rigorous testing platform that will roll out across campus, as it has done for athletics. Things will feel very different. Regular testing and vigilance around health and safety protocols are going to be crucial for the fall semester to be successful and safe.” 

 Duke’s overall COVID-19 testing regimen includes the following steps:   

  • All students have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to arrival in Durham, and obtain COVID-19 tests, if possible, prior to arrival.  
  • All undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be tested before their Duke Cards will be activated, except Ph.D. students who have been regularly coming to campus this summer for approved research.  Students will have to sequester in their room or off-campus residence until their results are confirmed. 
  • All students residing in the Durham area will be required to complete a daily symptom-monitoring survey every day before coming to campus.  
  • Faculty and staff who visit campus regularly will have to complete the symptom tracking survey every day.  
  • Students who reside in Duke housing, who attend classes on campus or work on campus, and a number of faculty and staff, will be subject to regular pooled surveillance testing during the semester.  
  • Contact tracers will conduct notifications of those who may have been in close contact with someone whose test comes back positive.  

 In addition, all students, faculty, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings while on campus and observe other health-related guidelines for distancing and hygiene.