One day out from a long delayed season opener, South Georgia Tormenta FC has been handed yet another setback. Following the recent testing results that revealed two positive cases of COVID-19 within Tormenta’s 40-person group of players and staff, USL League One has postponed Saturday’s home opener against the Richmond Kickers.
Unlike the bubble situation in Orlando with the MLS is Back tournament, USL has resumed play in the second-tier Championship with teams mostly in their home venues, many of which allowed a limited number of fans to attend. Third-tier League One is no different, and the smaller market size of South Georgia made Statesboro the ideal candidate to kick off the league’s second season safely. A distanced crowd of around 400 was expected at Erk Russell Park, the soccer and track facility of Georgia Southern University, which has a very open layout to begin with and a full capacity of around 3,500.
The positive tests come from a round of testing that took place on July 7th, and the positive individuals are in isolation and in good spirits, according to the club. The USL’s Health and Wellness Protocol states in regard to testing:
Players, and staff members who work with players, will be given a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic test for COVID-19 every week, in addition to one “baseline” test.
In addition, players and staff members who work with players will be given additional PCR tests if they are symptomatic or if they have been in close contact for a prolonged period with a diagnosed or suspected case of COVID-19.
In the event of a positive PCR test:
The individual will be immediately isolated and receive follow-up care and treatment.
If appropriate (at the discretion of the team physician), the individual may be tested again to ensure the initial test was not a false positive.
All areas in which the individual has been will be closed for 24 hours for cleaning and disinfection.
The individual’s club, in consultation with the state or local health department, will conduct a contact tracing investigation.
Anyone identified in the contact tracing investigation will immediately quarantine and be tested one or more times on a schedule to be determined by the team physician.
While the match is set to be rescheduled at a later date, USL League One has also released the full 2020 schedule today, with another two Tormenta home games in the coming weeks. The league has already seen Toronto FC II drop out of the season entirely, and with no regional play feasible, long distance travel to games poses an increased risk over the three and a half month schedule. League play is still set to kick off tomorrow night with Inter Miami’s affiliate Ft. Lauderdale CF hosting Greenville Triumph SC behind closed doors in the new MLS stadium’s unceremonious inauguration.
Hopefully, positive tests and postponement of matches are a scarce occurrence for all sports, and this instance can remind us all to remain diligent in looking after the safety of ourselves and those around us.