University of New Mexico football on pause due to COVID-19

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Eight football players at the University of New Mexico and one assistant coach tested positive for the coronavirus.

The positive cases announced Wednesday led state officials to step in and shut down all team activities, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

University athletic director Eddie Nuñez said if the team is unable to practice for the next week, they will not be able to safely play their first scheduled game on Oct. 24 against Colorado State.

“As Bernalillo County’s positivity rate no longer meets the criteria of the COVID-Safe Practices for Intercollegiate Sports agreed to by the university, the school has been instructed to postpone team activities at this time,” said Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The university’s football team was allowed to resume practice two weeks ago despite the state’s public health order prohibiting it by agreeing with public health officials on a four-page document on testing and safety guidelines.

“For any practice, game or scrimmage to occur in New Mexico, the college, university or New Mexico special school must be located in a county with a 14-day average daily case count of fewer than eight per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of under 5 percent,” the document reads.

On Thursday, the state announced that Bernalillo County’s 14-day average rose to 14.1 cases per 100,000 people.

“I have to believe, I do believe, that we have actual evidence that shows that when New Mexicans buckle down and we do everything that we’re being asked of each other — a social contract — we stay the course. I make tough decisions — I made a whole new set again today, or a couple days ago, effective tomorrow — that the numbers come down,” Gov. Grisham said during a weekly address on social media Thursday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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