ECU head football coach Mike Houston said Thursday he was encouraged by his team’s COVID-19 test results from Wednesday.

“Very encouraged by Wednesday’s tests,” Houston said. “No positives, so everybody that tested Wednesday was negative. That’s promising. We got one more round of testing tomorrow morning before everyone makes the decisions. Right now I would anticipate us being locked in and ready to go at noon on Saturday.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Houston confirmed the Pirates were dealing with some issues stemming from COVID-19 and were forced to make adjustments during the week. He would not get into specific details about numbers of infected individuals or those that have been forced to quarantine due to contact tracing.

“The contact tracing thing is the one that gets you,” Houston said. “That is the problem. I can go into some specifics with that a little bit more after Saturday, but that’s what is getting everybody.”

CDC guidelines recommend that contact traced individuals — those thought to have been in close-contact with an infected person — be placed in quarantine for a period of 14 days. You can not test of of the quarantine, and a period of 7-10 days follows called “Return to Play” where the student-athlete is eased back into physical activity.

Infected individuals can return to football-related activities in as little as 10 days, with the return to play protocol tacking onto the end of that.

Right now, it appears Saturday’s game against Navy is still on the docket, but Friday’s antigen testing presents the last hurdle before a final decision is made.

“Each and every week we go through this,” Houston said. “I know maybe people are paying a little bit more attention this week. Each Friday morning, both teams will go through the antigen testing, which is a rapid response. We get the results back within 30 minutes or so of the end of the testing. Then, both team doctors get on a conference call with the other physicians around the league and discuss the data. They take a lot of things into account, not just the results of the two teams, but also — for this game — it will be some of the data from the surrounding area here.”

From there, the game is deemed high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk. Medical professionals from both schools and the American Athletic Conference then make decisions to reflect that status.

With the promising news on Thursday, the Pirates still seem to be on track to welcome Navy into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is scheduled for noon. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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