For the second time this year, Pitt has been forced to pause all football activities in order to comply with COVID-19 protocols. The first time was a brief and inconsequential pause during training camp in August. This time, the pause will impact Pitt’s schedule, as the team has moved its matchup with Georgia Tech from this coming Saturday to Dec. 12.
“While I know our team was excited and prepared to play a game on Saturday, this is the right and responsible decision for our student-athletes and staff,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “We have great doctors at Pitt and they have given us the very best guidance throughout this entire pandemic. Our team knows we’ve had to be agile this year. We will continue to assemble virtually until we’re given the green light.”
The news of the delay comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking across the nation. The story in Pennsylvania has been no different than in other states, as it set a new daily record on Thursday, with 5,488 new cases reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The same day, Allegheny County, where Pitt is located, reported 412 new cases.
COVID-19 cases are also on the rise on Pitt's campus, where 73 cases were reported between Saturday and Monday. That was more than double the total known number of cases on the campus last Friday, and as a result, 110 students began sheltering in place on campus to prevent further spread.
The Pitt men’s soccer team also paused team activities due to COVID-19 protocols on Oct. 28, canceling two games as a result. In addition, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who share a practice facility and Heinz Field with the Pitt football team, also had four players test positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
At this point, the specifics of what prompted the pause remain unclear, as details clarifying the number of people impacted have not been provided nor have the identities of those impacted. However, the team has a clear timeline for its return to the field, as Pitt still expects to play Virginia Tech on Nov. 21.