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3 Georgia Tech athletes, 3 staff members test positive for COVID-19

October 21, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech fans cheer for their team during an NCAA college football game against the Wake Forest at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2017. Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 38-24. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
October 21, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech fans cheer for their team during an NCAA college football game against the Wake Forest at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2017. Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 38-24. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Three Georgia Tech athletes and three members of the athletic department staff have tested positive for COVID-19, an institute spokesman confirmed to the AJC on Thursday.

Citing privacy concerns, Tech did not share more information about the identities of the six. The positive cases are the first publicly known occurrences within the Tech athletic department or among Yellow Jackets athletes.

» MORE: Players, teams with positive coronavirus cases

The three athletes testing positive were identified out of about 160 Jackets athletes have been tested for the coronavirus since the athletic department began its voluntary workout program June 15, according to spokesman Blair Meeks. All athletes coming to campus were tested before being permitted to take part in the workouts, along with the strength coaches supervising the training sessions. They were also to be tested if they developed symptoms once training began or through surveillance testing.

The three athletes tested positive in the initial screening phase, meaning that they were able to be separated before they began workouts with teammates.

Tech has set up its workout program in three phases, the first began June 15 and the second started Monday. In the first phase, returning athletes in all sports living in metro Atlanta were permitted to take part and commuted from their home residences. About 75 athletes were expected in that group.

In the second phase, all returning athletes for football and men’s and women’s basketball were invited to take part as Tech’s housing department opened up on-campus housing to accommodate athletes from outside the Atlanta area. Incoming freshmen on the football team are expected to arrive this weekend.

» STEVE HUMMER: No mask, no college football?

The positive tests follow the pattern of college athletes being found to be infected with the coronavirus as they have returned to campus since the beginning of June, though in significantly smaller numbers than some. Most notably, Clemson’s football team has had 37 reported cases of COVID-19.

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 72 confirmed cases of staff, employees and students testing positive for COVID-19, according to an online report from Tech’s health-services department.

All three athletic department staff who tested positive were reported Sunday. The school’s COVID-19 report stated that two work in the Edge Center — the athletic department headquarters — and one works in the Zelnak Basketball Center.

Of the two who work in the Edge Center, one works alone “and did not have contact with others,” according to the report, and was last on campus June 24. The other’s affected co-workers “are being notified as consistent with Georgia Department of Public Health Protocols.” That staff member was last on campus Friday.

The employee who works in Zelnak, where Tech’s basketball teams train, was last on campus June 9.

Athletic department staff ranges from administrators to coaches to team-specific employees to internal staff handling a variety of roles such as equipment, facilities management, business and marketing.