EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – UTEP and New Mexico State have been holding voluntary workouts for multiple sports for weeks now. As universities around the nation are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, so far, so good for both the Miners and Aggies.
A UTEP spokesperson told KTSM on Friday that the Miners have not had any athletes test positive for COVID-19 since workouts began. A total number of tests completed was not provided by the university.
Portions of the Miners’ football, soccer, volleyball and cross country teams are currently on campus, with more set to return Monday. Members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with the track and field program are also expected to return to El Paso next week. Athletes are tested upon return.
The UTEP football program began workouts on June 15 with 45 players exercising on campus; the rest of the team continued to workout from home. The number of players has already increased from the initial 45, but Miners officials wouldn’t say exactly how many football players have returned.
Meanwhile, New Mexico State has tested 132 athletes, with six positive cases and all of them have recovered, according to NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia.
The six positive cases were from a round of tests completed on May 27; a group of student-athletes tested on June 3 in Las Cruces all came back negative, Moccia said.
New Mexico State has strict guidelines for returning to campus, as is the case for almost everything across the board in the state of New Mexico. Athletes returning to Las Cruces by car must immediately quarantine for three days, before getting tested for COVID-19 on day three. Once the test results return, if they are negative, the athletes can return to workouts immediately.
For athletes returning by plane, the process is the same, with one key addition. If arriving by air, athletes must quarantine for the three days before being tested for COVID-19, but must remain isolated for the full 14 days, even if a negative test result come back during the two-week quarantine period.
Moccia said another round of testing will be done at New Mexico State, as more athletes arrive on campus in the coming weeks.
The good news at both UTEP and New Mexico State comes as cases of COVID-19 are reaching record levels across the United States; Nearly 6,000 new cases were recorded in the state of Texas on both Thursday and Friday.
It’s also been a problem across college athletics, with both the University of Houston and Kansas State University shutting down summer workouts due to the coronavirus in the last two weeks.
On Friday, UTEP’s week one opponent, Texas Tech, announced 23 positive cases of COVID-19, out of 197 players and staff tested. 21 of the positive cases have since recovered; none required hospitalizations.
UTEP is scheduled to host Texas Tech on Sept. 5 at Sun Bowl Stadium.