Public Health Officials discuss UO football testing

Dr. Patrick Luedtke of Lane County Public Health explains the difference in tests given to the Oregon football team. This comes after five members of the UO football program test positive for Covid-19.

Posted: Oct 25, 2020 7:22 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2020 7:37 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon football's fall scrimmage in Autzen Stadium was cancelled after five positive antigen Covid-19 tests within the program. 

RELATED: 5 Positive COVID-19 Tests Within The UO Football Program 

According to Oregon Head Football Coach Mario Cristobal the entire team was going to be tested on Sunday, which is standard under the team's health protocol. 

The five individuals who tested positive were going to be administered a PCR follow-up test.

According to Lane County Senior Public Health Officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke, the PCR tests are more accurate with a longer turnaround time. The results for a PCR test usually show up within a few hours at the earliest.

The antigen test results show up within 15 minutes. 

"The PCR tests have a better sensitivity," Luedtke said. "Sensitivity means they're able to pick up all people with the condition. They have a really high specificity. The antigen tests don't have as high of a sensitivity. So they can miss some positives. But they're specificity, which means if it is positive is it a true positive, they're specificity is pretty high as well. "

Cristobal said the team will wait for the follow-up PCR test results before making a decision on resuming team activities.

According to CDC guidelines if someone is asymptomatic and is positive via a PCR test, that individual must isolate for 10 days. 

Luedtke says while the antigen tests have a strong accuracy rate, a false positive isn't off the table.

"Let's just say you had a football player that had no symptoms and it doesn't look like they have a respiratory infection like COVID-19. They were appropriately quarantining, being a hermit, hiding in their dorm room or their apartment and somehow this test that became positive is a big surprise," Luedtke said. "It could be a false positive. We would want people to be thinking about if the test is accurate and do a confirmatory test if it seem like it's a surprise positive."

The Ducks were scheduled to be off on Sunday, which is typical following a scheduled scrimmage. Oregon was set to have a mini-scrimmage on Wednesday. 

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