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Arizona halts plan to bring back athletes

The Wildcats have hit the pause button on student-athletes returning to campus

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are hitting the pause button on their plan to bring back their student-athletes, nearly 15 days after they reopened their doors. On June 15, Arizona began their plan to bring student-athletes back to campus, opening the doors to groups of 20 at a time. Though they were relatively successful with only one positive result in 83 tests, the rampant rise in COVID-19 positive cases in the state has forced the halt.

Arizona reported a whopping 3,858 positive cases on Sunday night, a new high for the state, and governor Doug Ducey ordered all gyms in the state to close for 30 days because of it. That also marked the seventh report of at least 3,000 positive cases in the state and also now gives Pima County more than 7,500 confirmed cases as well.

The Wildcats will await a decision on whether or not they can continue workouts with those athletes that have already tested negative and remain on campus according to athletics director Dave Heeke.

In a prepared statement, Heeke also said that safety is the number one goal.

“The health, safety and well-being of all members of our community is our number one priority,” Heeke said. “We will continue to work in conjunction with campus partners and our local government agencies to support and evaluate a safe and healthy return to campus.”

Their season is slated to start on August 29 against Hawaii and they had hoped to open formal football activities on July 6 with their staggered re-opening, which of course, is now in jeopardy.

“Our mission has always been, first and foremost, the safety of our student-athletes, staff and community,” Dr. Stephen Paul of C.A.T.S. Medical Services said in another prepared statement. “Health and safety continue to be the guiding force in our re-entry process. We will continue to monitor the status and impact of COVID-19 in our community and our ongoing and safe training of student-athletes already on campus. Arizona athletics will assess when to resume its re-entry process in collaboration with the guidelines and protocols of the University of Arizona, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, and state and local government agencies.”