Iowa State University announced Friday that 10 student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus, and that two of them are football players.
The news comes on the same day that the University of Houston shut down voluntary workouts after six student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Iowa State, which is in the central Iowa city of Ames, put out a statement that asserted none of the infected student-athletes had been engaging in team activities.
The statement continued, "Iowa State's Athletic Department is taking a number of precautions and has protocols for contact tracing as well as isolation to limit the spread of illness. The university feels strongly about balancing the privacy of our student-athletes and being transparent as well as avoiding speculation on case numbers."
"All football team members returning to campus have been tested," the statement added. "Of the 147 players and staff tested, only two of the returning players have tested positive for COVID-19."
The spate of infections on campus was likely contributing to a major rise in COVID-19 cases in Story County, according to the local health board chairman, Dr. John Paschen.
"While I cannot confirm this by any means, I'm suspicious that a lot of these cases are coming from ISU athletics, just because we're getting printouts of ages and it makes the most sense to me," Paschen told the Ames (Iowa) Tribune.
He added, "This is what keeps me up at night in regard to COVID, is ISU and students, and if Iowa State doesn't take a hard stance and say you can't be in a class unless you have a mask, we're going to get more of it."
Instituting quarantines for those who test positive is a good step, Paschen said, adding, "But I wonder if they enforce it. That means they can't practice together, they can't work out together. .... I bet a bunch of them live together, but if they're all self-isolating for 14 days, hopefully they're not going to the bars at night."
A spokesperson for Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames and Story County Public Health, Steve Sullivan, told the newspaper regarding infections in the past week, "(The 20-to-25 age range has) been the majority of the reported cases -- at least half. We haven't seen these types of numbers in the 20-to-25 age range, and they began popping up at this level and rate within the last couple of weeks."
Last week, four Iowa State athletes were quarantined while awaiting test results after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. At that time, a part-time student worker in the athletic department self-reported a positive test.
The NCAA permitted universities to begin bringing players back for workouts as early as June 1, but schools could set their own timeframe according to on local conditions. A report from 247 Sports on Friday indicated that 51 of the 65 schools in the Power 5 conference had started or scheduled voluntary workouts.