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With football on the horizon, what is happening on campuses around the conference?

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It’s time to be cautiously optimistic, folks.

Bascom Hall on Bascom Hill, University of Wisconsin, Madison Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Big Ten conference finally granted the wishes of players, coaches and fans alike when they reversed their initial decision to not play football this fall, and decided to open the 2020 season the weekend of October 23-24.

While this is great, it is still important to be cautiously optimistic given the recent data.

First off, let me apologize in advance, as this pandemic has hardened my heart and made me somewhat of a pessimist and a bit of a cotton-headed ninny muggins...

That being said, let’s look at what is happening on campuses around the Big Ten, with football about five weeks away.

Illinois

304,740 test results, with a seven-day positivity rate of .44 percent. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Illinois has a seven-day positivity rate of 3.6 percent.

Indiana

Positivity rate of 40.2 percent for the week of Sept 5 – Sept 11, which is down from 50.2 percent the week prior. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Indiana has a seven-day positivity rate of 6.2 percent.

Iowa

1,836 confirmed for students, 32 employees. However, the university does not provide total number of tests. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Iowa has a seven-day positivity rate of 13.5 percent.

Maryland

For the week of Sept 6 – Sept 12, there were 2,420 tests, with a positvity rate of 3.6 percent, according to Johns Hopkins, the state of Maryland has a seven-day positivity rate of 6.4 percent.

Michigan

The positivity rate for the week beginning Sept 13 is 6.3 percent, which is up from 2 percent from the previous week. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Michigan has a seven-day positivity rate of 2.9 percent.

Michigan State

160 new student confirmed cases for the week of Sept 7, with the previous high of 124 coming the previous week, but MSU does not report percentages. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Michigan has a seven-day positivity rate of 2.9 percent.

Minnesota

122 tests administered the week of Sept 4- Sept 10, with four positive cases, which was 3.3 percent. The university has tested athletes 1,406 times, with 43 positive results. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Minnesota has a seven-day positivity rate of 8.1 percent.

Nebraska

Since August 12, 637 positive of 3,903 tests. Rolling, seven-day average of 34.86 positive cases. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Nebraska has a seven-day positivity rate of 9.4 percent.

Northwestern

For the week of Sept 4 - Sept 10, there were 19 confirmed cases (16 students). According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Illinois has a seven-day positivity rate of 3.6 percent.

Ohio State

Reported 30 positive cases on Sept 12, out of 1,060 tests, which is a 2.8 percent positivity rate. Previous week saw a high 223 confirmed cases, out of 4,902 tests, for a 4.5 percent positivity rate. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Ohio has a seven-day positivity rate of 3.6 percent.

Penn State

The week of Sept 4 - Sept 10, there was a high of 646 cases, with the previous high coming the previous week (36). According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Pennsylvania has a seven-day positivity rate of 6.8 percent.

Purdue

For the period of Sept 8 - Sept 14, 177 positive cases total, which is 3.17 percent. Since Sept 1, 513 total (488 students). According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Indiana, has a seven-day positivity rate of 6.2 percent.

Rutgers

Week ending Sept 12, 14 confirmed cases out of 3,017 tests, which was .46 percent, double the prior week of .2 percent. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of New Jersey has a seven-day positivity rate of 1.9 percent.

Wisconsin

Last Wednesday to Sunday, 840 cases, out of 8,964 tests. The university moved to online instruction only for two weeks and quarantined the Witte and Sellery residence halls for 14 days as well. The seven day rate as of yesterday, was 10.3 percent. According to Johns Hopkins, the state of Wisconsin has a seven-day positivity rate of 14.6 percent.

Wisconsin has also had 42 players and coaches test positive up to this point, with daily testing starting on Sept 30.

Some of these numbers are a bit daunting, especially with the thresholds in place.

That 5 percent threshold is for the team positivity rate, while the population rate is a little higher at 7.5 percent. If both of these thresholds are met, the team is shut down for seven days and then metrics have to be reassessed until things improve, which could lead to multiple seven day shut downs.

However, there is hope as the Big Ten will be doing daily antigen testing, which is supposed to be more effective at finding cases than your average COVID test. With these tests being more effective, it could find cases quicker and prevent more cases from spreading throughout the team, effectively keeping a team on the field.

The conference is also implementing other rules to help keep teams on the field, later this fall.

With the conference doing all of this, it is a positive step forward, but it is still important to remember that while these players are theoretically being more careful, being tested more often, etc. some of them are still on campuses that are seeing higher infection rates, which could throw a wrench into the conference’s plans.

So stay cautiously optimistic in the coming weeks and wear a mask.

(Editor’s note: let’s keep things civil in the comments, please.)