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UA lowers confirmed COVID-19 positives in athletics from 13 to 2, cites testing error
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UA lowers confirmed COVID-19 positives in athletics from 13 to 2, cites testing error

Wildcats women's soccer was to be shut down for 14 days; now expected to resume Wednesday

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Dr. Stephen Paul, right, believes his coaching background gives him additional tools to carry out what may be his biggest challenge yet.

After reporting 13 positive test results for COVID-19 among student-athletes earlier in the week, the University of Arizona conducted contract tracing and retesting and lowered that number to two.

The UA said in a news release Sunday that the false positives were the result of an instrumentation error. The student-athletes were retested at the behest of Dr. Stephen Paul, Arizona Athletics’ director of medical services.

"Of course, I am not pleased that we initially reported false positive tests, but I am proud of the protocols put in place in our testing program that enabled Dr. Paul to uncover this issue," UA president Robert C. Robbins said in a news release.

"As we do more comprehensive testing, both on and off campus, it is incumbent on our team to display the same determination and integrity that led to this result. I also want to acknowledge the student-athletes impacted and apologize to them and their families for this disruption in their lives."

Twelve positive tests of non-athletes also were rerun. Eight came back positive.

"We communicated with all those impacted and apologized for the error," Paul said. "The one positive that has come out of this process has been the reinforcement of our commitment to our contact-tracing protocols. Because of the honesty and engagement of the participants, we were able to determine there was a potential error in our process."

On Thursday, the UA reported 13 positives test results among student-athletes, plus six inconclusive results. Seven of the potential 19 positives were from women’s soccer, prompting the school to shut down the program for 14 days.

However, based on the new results, all sports programs, including women’s soccer, are expected to resume activities Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the Pac-12 Conference announced an agreement with Quidel Corporation that will allow for daily, rapid-result testing across the league. That could lead to the return of sports sometime in 2020 after the conference put all events on the shelf because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or mlev@tucson.com. On Twitter @michaeljlev 

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