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USC football player tests positive for COVID-19, coach Clay Helton says

Helton say unidentified player was symptomatic and quarantined, and athletic and medical authorities notified

USC football coach Clay Helton on Tuesday said an unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and was symptomatic and quarantined.
USC football coach Clay Helton on Tuesday said an unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and was symptomatic and quarantined.

A USC football player tested positive Monday for COVID-19, coach Clay Helton said Tuesday, potentially jeopardizing the undefeated Trojans’ next two games.

The unnamed player traveled with the team for Saturday’s game against Utah, but did not participate in team activities Sunday or Monday.

The individual was symptomatic and quarantined.

USC Student Health, the Utah athletic department and the Pac-12 were notified and the Los Angeles County Department of Health was to be informed later Tuesday. Helton said further information would be provided regarding additional test results and contact tracing.

The player tested negative three times over a 36-hour span, including before Saturday’s game. No other Trojans tested positive, according to Helton, who also said he would have a virtual meeting with the team to discuss the positive test Tuesday afternoon.

No. 19 USC (3-0) is scheduled to play unranked Colorado (2-0) on Saturday at the Coliseum. L.A. County guidelines for anyone who comes into contact with a person who tests positive to be isolated for 14 days. In addition to Saturday’s game, USC also plays Washington State on Dec. 4.

As of Tuesday morning, no decision had been made about playing Saturday’s game.

County health authorities must perform contact tracing first.

“We’re going to seek guidance,” Helton said during a Zoom call with reporters. “We lean on our medical professionals. This is not a coach decision. They do their contact tracing study and we’ll lean on their guidance and see what they say. I really can’t give you any other information right now.”

In August, eight unnamed athletes among the football and men’s water polo teams tested positive for COVID-19 and activities for both sports were halted. USC said at the time that contact tracing indicated the positive cases stemmed off campus and not from athletic training.

No members of the football coaching staff have tested positive.

“We’ve been here (working out at USC) since July 6 and I’ve got to credit their discipline and their sacrifice they have made as well as thank our university, our athletic and university leadership for the resources they’ve given us,” Helton said.

“From the housing to the food to the protocols, to how we travel and to the hotels, just everything is so first class and done the right way. We’re testing so many times, but it provides the most accurate and current information to keep us as safe as possible. I want to thank the university leaders.”

Helton said USC’s players, coaches and staff would remain on campus for Thanksgiving.

“We’ll have a turkey dinner, but it will be individually packed up,” he said. “It’s not your normal sit-down style dinner. I wish we could eat together as a family right now and men could see their families, but in preparation for each and every game, we have to follow the protocols.”

Eight games in the Pac-12 have been canceled because of positive tests so far. Two games have been canceled in each of the first three weeks of the conference’s shortened six-game season. As of Tuesday, USC, UCLA, Oregon and Oregon State were the only schools with a chance to play all six.

Colorado’s game last Saturday against Arizona State was canceled because of COVID-19 cases at ASU. This week, the Washington-Washington State and Utah-ASU games have been canceled. Some games might be made up during the extra seventh week set aside for such contests on Dec. 19.

At least 90 NCAA games have been canceled or rescheduled because of the coronavirus.


Linebackers Ralen Goforth (sprained foot) and Palaie Gaoteote (concussion protocol) and defensive lineman Caleb Tremblay (stinger/academic issue) didn’t practice Monday, Helton said. Running backs Markese Stepp (sprained pectoral) and Stephen Carr (knee) did practice, though.


The Trojans’ game Dec. 4 against Washington State at the Coliseum has been moved to 6 p.m., likely to comply with the L.A. county’s 10 p.m. coronavirus curfew. Kickoff was originally at 6:30 p.m.

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