ANN ARBOR, Mich. – All athletic programs at the University of Michigan will be put on a 14-day pause starting Sunday, a school official confirmed Saturday night.
The decision was made by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. All athletic activities in all sports -- including games, team and individual training sessions -- have been ceased until further notice, up to 14-days.
Team members -- student athletes, coaches and team staff -- are asked to immediately isolate or quarantine until further notice.
UM is currently connected to five of the six confirmed cases of the new B.1.1.7 variant of coronavirus. School officials said some of the positive tests are from people involved in the Athletic Department.
The school said all five individuals are in isolation and are either asymptomatic or showing only mild symptoms.
“Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools,” said Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics.
The school is working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and MDHHS on additional mitigation strategies to address the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant in the university community. The university will be carefully considering additional mitigation measures.
There are many unknowns that remain under investigation by UM, local and state public health officials.
No determination has been made on how the pause may impact scheduled games beyond Feb. 7.
As of Jan. 23, 2021, Washtenaw County has 14,573 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Lynn Sutfin, Public Information Officer for the MDHHS, issued the following statement in response to the issue.
The statement reads, “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is taking appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of Michiganders from the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 that is more easily spread from person to person. Because this variant can more easily spread, it could result in more cases, hospitalizations and deaths as we have seen in other countries that have had outbreaks associated with this variant. MDHHS has made recommendations to prevent and slow the spread of this virus, to allow time for plots vulnerable people to be vaccinated before the variant spreads.
In response to five confirmed cases and additional suspected cases of the variant associated with sports teams at the University, MDHHS has made a number of recommendations including suspending all sports practices and games for two weeks, expanded testing and public messaging about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. MDHHS sent University of Michigan officials a memo explaining our recommendations, but has not issued any orders for the university to take any actions.
Due to possible exposure to the virus in the community, MDHHS has also recommended increased testing in Washtenaw County to the Washtenaw County Health Department. We continue to urge all Michiganders to continue doing the right thing to protect themselves against the virus, including wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds, washing their hands often and making plans to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn.”