Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The Mountain West Conference begins its football season Saturday, but without the University of New Mexico and Colorado State.
Their game at Colorado State was canceled due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in Bernalillo County.
The high numbers in the county are also expected to cancel UNM’s home opener against San Jose State on Oct. 31.
Still, the UNM football team carries on with its protocols, practicing in small groups and testing for the coronavirus.
This week’s rounds of testing (166 tests on Tuesday and 164 tests on Thursday) resulted in zero positives. That’s good news considering the Lobos had nine players and one staff member test positive last week. They are quarantined for 10 days, after which they are tested again at physicians’ discretion, according to UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez.
“The method that we have is working, because we didn’t have a violent spread throughout our football team,” Gonzales said. “We haven’t had any (positive cases) since last week. The stuff that we’re doing is working. We knew it was going to be challenging. Since June, our positivity rate is like 1.09%. That’s outstanding. It’s really a positive thing. The process we put in place has been successful.”
Gonzales said it would be nice to think that would help the Lobos’ chances to play next week against San Jose State. But he knows that’s not the case. Every week will be a challenge to take the field.
Gonzales knows gaining clearance for full-contact practices and game competition has to do with positivity rate percentage in relation to tests per 100,000 people in the county, standards that UNM Athletics agreed to according to the “COVID-Safe Practices for Intercollegiate Sports” guidelines.
Those guidelines mandate practices must stop if the school is located in a county with a 14-day average daily case count above eight per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of over 5%.
Late last week, Bernalillo County’s numbers increased past the threshold allowed to practice with a 14-day average case count of 14.1 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 4.7%.
Friday’s new COVID-19 case counts in the state totaled 797, which is lower than the single-day record of 820 set Wednesday.
The seven-day new case average is now 629, slightly below the all-time high of 632 from earlier in the week. However, it has more than quadrupled in the last month.
Bernalillo County, where UNM resides, recorded the most new infections in she state with 197.
The state on Friday also reported seven new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the state’s pandemic total to 960.