UPDATE Tuesday, October 27th, 11:46 a.m. CST:
Per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, a source has told him that Wisconsin Badgers starting QB Graham Mertz has tested positive a second team for COVID-19, meaning he must enter the Big Ten’s mandatory 21-day quarantine.
Wisconsin qb Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID a second time (backing up the first positive) and will enter the Big Ten's 21-day protocol, a source told CBS Sports. https://t.co/pLIYcHiqde— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 27, 2020
We will have more on this as the situation develops.
2020 strikes again.
After a statement win in the home opener against Illinois, things appear much more murky heading into a road test against Nebraska.
According to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quarterback Graham Mertz tested positive for COVID-19.
Apologies for the delay in answering questions from #Badgers fans about Graham Mertz testing positive for COVID-19. Have been working on the story for much of the day but we wanted to be certain. One positive test. Has to have a second test to confirm.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) October 25, 2020
The exact details, contact tracing efforts, and medical information is not yet readily available given HIPAA, but it appears as though the Badgers may potentially be down their freshman phenom if he indeed tests positive a second time. Per Big Ten protocol Mertz will need to take a PCR nasal swab test in order to confirm his standing.
When the return of Big Ten competition was announced back in September, conference guidelines stated that players would be held out of practice and games for at least 21 days in the instance of a positive test. After that quarantine window the player must pass a cardiovascular test and be cleared by team doctors.
#Badgers fans: I will tweet out link to the story once it is posted. But a player has to sit out 21 days. However, if subsequent tests (PCR are negative), that means the initial test was a false positive. See Nick Saban and Bama.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) October 25, 2020
Of note, the conference also has guidelines in place that if the team positive rate exceeds 5% that the team would be unable to play and that the cancelled game would result in “no contest” without the opportunity to make up the game. As things stand this positive test is not expected to be part of a teamwide outbreak, but the news is definitely a huge blow to the team.
This is an ongoing story that Badger fans will want to continue to monitor this week, as Graham Mertz played exceptionally well in the opener. With expected starter Jack Coan currently out with a foot injury, redshirt sophomore Chase Wolf would appear to be next up on the depth chart.
Wisconsin Athletics has not released COVID-19 testing information since return to play was announced in September, however the Badgers were not without many players against Illinois.
For now the best case scenario is for Mertz to test negative in the coming days nullifying the test in questions as a false positive.
Updated 10/25/2020 at 8:45pm CST:
Following the news of Graham Mertz’s positive test UW Athletics released the following statement about testing protocols and Friday nights contest with Illinois:
Wisconsin Athletics continues to conduct daily antigen testing for the student-athletes, coaches and selected support staff associated with the Badger football program. Individuals who receive a negative antigen test result continue to participate in team activities. Individuals who receive a presumptive positive antigen test result are removed from team activities and are required to take a PCR test to confirm positivity.
No student-athletes, coaches or support staff members who participated in Friday’s game against Illinois recorded positive antigen tests or reported having any symptoms on Friday prior to the game.
Per Big Ten Conference policy, all COVID-19 positive student-athletes must self-isolate for 10 days. Following their self-isolation period, they have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.
Wisconsin Athletics will not be releasing COVID-related testing information regarding any individual student-athlete, due to medical privacy. We will continue to follow Big Ten Conference COVID-19 protocols developed by the Big Ten medical subcommittee and approved by the conference’s presidents and chancellors.