The Southeastern Conference announced Friday it will expand its health measures for fall sports by increasing COVID-19 testing to three times per week and performing a series of heart evaluations for student-athletes who test positive before they return to play.
The new required third test will be a rapid diagnostic test performed close to games of high-risk sports. The SEC previously announced the first two tests will be polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and testing will be coordinated through a third-party provider.
Student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 will also go under a series of cardiac evaluations after an isolation period and before returning to play. The cardiac evaluation would mandate a troponin level, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and a medical evaluation by a physician, according to the SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
"We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID-19 as we learn more about the virus, and this cardiac evaluation enhances the effectiveness of the protocols already in place," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. "We are confident in our institutions' ability to provide a healthy environment supported by rigorous testing and surveillance. Our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete and it is our responsibility to make every effort to deliver a healthy and medically sound environment for providing that opportunity."
The SEC will play a 10-game, conference-only football season this fall beginning Sept. 26. Soccer, volleyball and cross country seasons have been postponed through August. Start dates and schedules for these sports have yet to be announced.