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Health & Well-Being Initiative

Pac-12 contributes to important new research findings to shorten COVID-19 quarantine periods for student-athletes

Jan 7, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO — In collaboration with the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), the Pac-12 Conference contributed to research which has informed data-based quarantine recommendations for individuals exposed to COVID-19. The Pac-12 was able to contribute to this research through its members’ dedication to implementation of daily testing protocols. 

The findings of the project — which included data from multiple NCAA conferences — informed the most recent recommendations of the CDC, reducing recommended quarantine periods for individuals identified as close contacts given the limited risk for transmission after 10 days following exposure. 

The study released today concluded that the benefit of increased compliance with a shorter quarantine period outweighed the incremental benefits of additional quarantine days. The study also emphasized the importance of adhering to mitigation measures, including universal masking and physical distancing, at all times. 

Dr. Stephen Paul, Director of Athletic Medicine at the University of Arizona and lead Pac-12 researcher on this CDC quarantine study, provided insight into the project’s findings. 

“Given the commitment to diligence in testing, the Pac-12 was well positioned to be a leader in providing excellent data on our collective experience with contact tracing, testing and quarantine in our athletic population,” Paul said. “This allowed us, along with other NCAA institutions and conferences to provide the evidence to safely support a revised quarantine period. The importance of shortening the duration of quarantine is critical to encourage compliance of those asked to quarantine and help keep people safe from the coronavirus.”

Dr. Kimberly Harmon, section head of sports medicine for the University of Washington and Research Development Director of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being Initiative, highlighted that the ramifications of these efforts extend beyond collegiate athletics. 

“The Pac-12 is pleased to have participated in this research leading to a decrease in mandatory quarantine length,” Dr. Harmon said. “We hope that our experience with student-athletes in this and other areas can translate not only to athletes at other levels, such as youth and high school athletes, but also help people return to work and society in a safe and timely manner.”

The joint effort of NCAA conferences and health care officials to reach this recommendation highlights the power of partnering together to use existing data to improve public health measures and policies. 

The Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being Initiative, whose existing research infrastructure contributed data to the findings underscoring this report, is committed to ensuring the safety of student-athletes. In recent months, the Conference has selected projects for health and well-being research and partnered with diagnostic testing leaders to effectively test student-athletes for COVID-19. 

To access the complete manuscript of the report, click here