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Lobos, Aggies hopeful strong virus testing results continue on road

The show has hit the road for the UNM Lobos and NMSU Aggies, but the testing continues.

New Mexico’s four Division I basketball teams are now each at out-of-state locations – UNM’s men’s and women’s teams in Texas, NMSU’s in Arizona – preparing for the 2020-21 NCAA season that starts as early as Wednesday. Each continues to adhere to multiple-times per week PCR testing for coronavirus that is still shipped back to New Mexico and reported directly to the state’s Department of Health.

The hope, of course, is that the teams’ strong COVID-19 testing results since summer continue despite the staggering spike in cases in New Mexico and the rest of the country – including the areas in which the teams have relocated.

“We’ve committed to doing three PCR tests (weekly), and at this point, nothing’s going to change,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said. “All that is going to be the same commitment, through and through. … The process is working. The cost might be a little bit more, but everything that we’re doing seems to work, and right now, I really don’t want to add anything or take anything away (from the existing process).”

UNM, which also has its football team relocated out of state to Las Vegas, Nev., on Friday reported the following test results:

• Football had 467 PCR tests this week with zero positives.

• Men’s basketball had 53 PCR tests this week with zero positives.

• Women’s basketball had 41 PCR tests this week with zero positives.

• Total since June 22 department wide: 5,590 PCR tests, 45 positives (a 0.81% positivity rate).

The Lobos also noted a non-football, non-basketball athlete who lives in Albuquerque had symptoms this past week, tested positive and is in isolation from anyone else affiliated with UNM Athletics.

For NMSU on Friday, the team’s total test results since Aug. 23 are:

• Men’s basketball has had 321 tests with three positives (0.93%)

• Women’s basketball has had 289 tests with zero positives.

Nuñez said the Lobos’ athletic trainers with the teams in West Texas are trained and certified to administer the tests and send them back to Albuquerque where they will be input at the same TriCore labs as if the teams were still here. That data is then provided simultaneously to both the school and the DOH.

The NMSU men’s basketball social media accounts on Friday posted a picture of Oñate High graduate and senior forward Johnny McCants with a long swab being inserted into his nose by a woman administering the Aggies’ round of PCR testing at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix. The post had the message, “Big thanks to @AZSportsEnt for conducting our COVID tests while we’re in Phoenix! #AggieUp.”

Earlier this week in announcing the Aggies chose the Arizona Grand as their men’s basketball relocation site, athletic director Mario Moccia noted that the price for the location – $105 per room per night for a total of $78,000 for five weeks before food or transportation costs – included courts in a ballroom that would be dedicated to the team and available 24 hours a day and, maybe most important he said, all necessary PCR testing to play this season.

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