STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s team football hasn’t experienced any COVID-19 outbreaks since returning to campus this summer.

While that news is welcomed by the program and the Big Ten as the Nittany Lions approach Week 5 of the season, Penn State coach James Franklin on Tuesday said the coronavirus has presented a different issue for his program.

“One of the issues that we continue to have issues with is false positives,” Franklin said. “We’ve had 39 false positives, where that means 39 people missing practice. We’re at, I think, a higher rate than anybody in the conference and trying to find out why.”

Penn State was without a player for its season-opener on Oct. 24 against Indiana because of a false positive COVID-19 test.

On Sept. 30, all 14 Big Ten programs began daily coronavirus testing for their student-athletes. Penn State each Wednesday announces its weekly COVID-19 testing update. While the names and the sports of impacted athletes are kept unknown, the weekly updates are a good indicator of how the program is handling the pandemic.

Last week, Journey Brown announced his retirement from football after learning he had a heart condition. Franklin said the condition was found through COVID-19 testing, but that it was non-COVID-19 related.

Penn State’s false positives haven’t been exclusive to football players.

“We’ve had a few kids, as well as staff members, who have gotten false positives multiple days in a row,” Franklin said. “So it’s test positive, input and isolation. Retest, the test comes back negative later in the day, typically about halfway through practice. The way we’re set up here in State College, our retesting is about an hour and 45 minutes away, so we have to drive it an hour and 45 minutes away, get a test, wait for the results and then bring it back.”

Penn State will release its latest COVID-19 testing update this afternoon.

Elton Hayes

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