Canceling football games due to positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing has become the new normal. On Friday ECU’s upcoming opponent, Georgia State, was forced to cancel its game against Charlotte after identifying four individuals within the program that had tested positive for the virus.

After contact tracing efforts, 17 additional individuals were placed in quarantine, prompting the game to be canceled.

In a release by the school today, however, it was revealed those test results were caused by an error in reading the tests, one that produced misleading results. With this development, Georgia State and ECU will proceed with their game on Saturday in Atlanta.

Georgia State tested its student-athletes, coaches and staff on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week with the first two rounds returning zero positive results. It was not until Friday afternoon that Thursday’s results revealed the false cluster of cases.

“These were our first positive test results in three weeks among our athletics program, which since April have experienced a positivity rate of 1.7%,” GSU Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb said in the release. “Out of an abundance of caution for the rest of our team and Charlotte, we could not in good conscientious put our team on the bus and play a game.

“As part of our protocols, we tested the individuals again Friday afternoon and were informed by our lab Friday night that none tested positive. They also retested the swabs from Thursday and all tested negative as well. It was at this point that the lab director informed our medical staff that a human error Friday morning caused the error in test results.”

Georgia State will enter Saturday 0-1 after losing to a nationally ranked Louisiana team on Sept. 19 in overtime. The Pirates will also enter 0-1 after dropping their season-opener against UCF 51-28 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Panthers plan to return to practice on Monday after being cleared to do so.

Up until today’s announcement, ECU’s first road game of the season looked to be in doubt. The Pirates already had to cancel their Sept. 12 matchup with Marshall after a cluster of cases prompted a 12-day pause, but that was resolved and all but a handful of players were available for yesterday’s opener.

Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, schedules can change at a moment’s notice. This time, however, the news was positive and the Panthers and Pirates are back on track to play Saturday.

“Until they do, we’re playing,” ECU head football coach Mike Houston said yesterday regarding the possibility of a cancellation. “I would bet we probably play the game. I don’t think that their issues are quite as bad as what some may think that they are. I think we’ll probably play the game. We’ll see.”

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