COVID Test Lab Error Causes College Football Game To Be Canceled


Saturday’s Georgia State-Charlotte football game that was postponed due to positive coronavirus tests could have been played, officials admitted on Sunday.

“The positive COVID tests that caused Georgia State to postpone Saturday’s scheduled game at Charlotte turned out to be the result of errors in reading the test results,” according to a Georgia State news release.

The Georgia State release said that although the Georgia State-Charlotte game has not been rescheduled, Georgia State is still scheduled to host East Carolina Saturday, and will hit the practice field Monday to prepare for the game.

The release outlined the testing routine at Georgia State.

“GSU student-athletes and staff tested three times last week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the first two rounds producing zero positive tests. The results from Thursday’s round became available Friday afternoon, just before the team’s scheduled departure, and the positive results caused Georgia State to postpone the game out of an abundance of caution,” the release said.

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“Friday afternoon, as we were loading the buses to play a football game at Charlotte, we were informed that four individuals out of 135 had tested positive for coronavirus from our third test in four days as part of our protocol to play. Through contract tracing, we identified 17 others, including one coach, who would require quarantining,” GSU Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb said.

“These were our first positive test results in three weeks among our athletics programs, which since April have experienced a positivity rate of 1.7 percent,” Cobb said. “Out of an abundance of caution for the rest of our team and Charlotte, we could not in good conscience put our team on the bus and play a game.”

“As part of our protocols, we tested the individuals again Friday afternoon and were informed by our lab Friday night that none tested positive. They also retested the swabs from Thursday and all tested negative as well. It was at this point that the lab director informed our medical staff that a human error Friday morning caused the error in test results,” he said.

“The disappointing news is that we could have played on Saturday. More importantly, the positive news is we are not dealing with an outbreak at this time,” he said.

Are the coronavirus tests reliable?

This is not the first time false positives have interfered with college sports.

In August, Northwestern’s football team went into quarantine briefly after a false positive in August.  Arizona athletes also had a rash of false positives put them in quarantine earlier in September.

False-positive tests have emerged as a major issue in battling the disease.

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Concerns over false positives have been cited by Kansas State Medical Director Kyle Goerl in deciding how student athletes are tested, according to The Mercury.

“That’s a largely unvetted system,” he said. “The NFL is doing daily testing, but it’s PCR [polymerase chain reaction]. When you’re doing testing that frequently, it also could have potential issues. You might start getting a number of false positives. The more testing you do, the more at risk you are to get (false positives) and have that happen to you.”

“You’re more likely to have a false positive with the PCR test, because it’s just a much more sensitive test,” he said.

“So if you even came across a whiff of the virus, it may cause you to test positive whether or not you are truly infectious. Whereas if you test positive on an antigen test, it’s a pretty solid test,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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