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Morning Power Bar: COVID-19 Testing; Election Day Update; OSU Schedule

We look at this week in college basketball.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

This is a new weekly column for BTPowerhouse that will cover a variety of Big Ten topics that might not deserve a detailed breakdown, but deserve mention. It will be similar to a news roundup with more thoughts and analysis.

So, let’s jump into our Morning Power Bar.

1. Big Ten partnering with labs for COVID-19 testing.

With the announcement that football was returning last month, we knew more information would be coming regarding the specifics. And fans must have been pleased to learn the conference has partnered with multiple labs for its testing.

Here’s a pertinent part of the release:

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference has entered into strategic partnerships with Biodesix, Inc., a leading diagnostic company with a focus on lung disease, and Quidel Corporation, the manufacturer of the FDA-authorized SOFIA 2 SARS rapid antigen test. Biodesix will oversee and manage the onsite testing of the Quidel antigen test while additionally validating with its droplet digital PCR (ddPCR™ ) technology. This partnership will provide comprehensive surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) for all student-athletes and staff personnel involved in close contact sports competition. Those individuals who are presumptively positive based on the results of the antigen surveillance testing will be referred to their respective member institutions’ health staff for confirmatory PCR testing.

“Along with its medical and scientific capabilities as a certified laboratory, Biodesix is committed to helping the Big Ten meet the testing requirements and reporting protocols established by the medical subcommittee and adopted by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C),” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University, and co-chair of the Big Ten Conference Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee. Dr. Borchers added, “Quidel’s rapid antigen testing technology represents the ability to perform COVID-19 surveillance testing on a large scale with prompt results.”

The Return to Competition testing will begin on September 30, 2020. Biodesix administrators will be on site this week at each of the 14 Big Ten campuses, coinciding with the first shipment of the rapid antigen testing kits from Quidel. Biodesix and its designated contractor, Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services, Inc., will assume all day-to-day sample collection and surveillance testing responsibilities.

“The partnership with Biodesix and Quidel is an important step toward achieving our mission of keeping our student-athletes, and the communities that support them, healthy and safe,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “The data we are scheduled to collect, and the research component of this partnership, will provide major contributions to all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) among wider communities.”

Let’s hope this goes well and feeds into basketball season. Things are still scheduled to start on November 25th. No schedules have been announced to date.

2. Another Election Day update.

In another positive development this week, Penn State updated its efforts to assist in voting efforts this Election Day. The school announced it would be making its basketball arena available to the public for voting:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Centre County Board of Elections has partnered with Penn State University to make the Bryce Jordan Center an early voting and Election Day poll site for the 2020 general election.

On Sept. 22, the Board of Elections approved the temporary change of polling locations for Precinct 24 and Precinct 44-2 from the HUB-Robeson Center to the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s University Park campus.

“Since its opening in 1996, the Bryce Jordan Center has proudly served our community by bringing top-name performers in entertainment and sports to the Centre Region. We are honored to continue to serve the community by opening our doors to voters this election,” said General Manager Al Karosas. “The scale and design of the Bryce Jordan Center, as well as the many updates made to address COVID concerns, allow us to easily accommodate proper spatial distancing, provide frequent access to hand sanitizer stations, and offer convenient parking to voters.”

“The Centre County Board of Commissioners and Board of Elections are grateful that the University is expanding access to the ballot box and providing a safe method for voters to make their voices heard,” said Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe. “Utilizing the Bryce Jordan Center as both an early voting site and a polling location provides more options for voters to get involved in our democratic process.”

Early voting will take place at the Bryce Jordan Center from Oct. 7-10, Oct. 14-17, and Oct. 21-24. The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Oct. 19.

Voters can visit https://centrecountyvotes.com/wheretovote to find their assigned general election poll site. For information on early voting, visit https://centrecountyvotes.com/votingcenter/. Visit www.centrecountyvotes.com for additional election information.

In September, the NCAA designated the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 each year, including this year’s Nov. 3 election date, as a mandatory day off from practice or competition for student-athletes.

What a great idea and it’s nice to see Penn State join the movement.

3. Ohio State gets a schedule update.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the college basketball season, but we did get a minor update this week for the Buckeyes, who learned that Dayton would be replacing Duke in the team’s non-conference tournament:

That’s still a loaded field, even without Duke. Perhaps we can see an in-state clash between the Buckeyes and Flyers.

4. Maryland administration takes pay cuts.

College sports have been hit hard with the pandemic and limited fan attendance. And these developments have created some substantial financial difficulties for athletic departments. Schools are now fighting to stay afloat and the Big Ten isn’t immune. Maryland had this update this week:

We’ll see how many of these changes last long-term, but a few people are going to have lighter checking accounts moving forward.

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