Rapid testing could impact Big Ten decision to start football season

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 8:11 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - As the Big Ten expects to make its announcement on a football season again this week, one of the key factors officials said could play into it is rapid testing. UNL and UNMC officials confirmed Husker athletics received 1,200 antigen test.

According to health officials, COVID-19 test results could be received with hours with this form of testing. Infectious disease specialist at CHI Health St. Elizabeth Dr. Paul Gobbo said rapid testing is the best way to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks within large groups.

“I think it would be absolutely crucial especially for sports," Dr. Gobbo said. “We have a large number of people together for long periods of time and to test them on a daily basis would be ideal." Dr. Gobbo said benefits from rapid testing include isolating the proper people in a timely fashion.

“That would allow for contact tracing which would also help to mitigate the spread of the infection and could save the whole football season,” Dr. Gobbo said.

While there are positive parts to rapid testing, health officials said there are some issues with it. Dr. Gobbo said rapid testing could lead to some inaccuracies with test results.

“With the new antigen test, they can certainly do it within a few hours," Dr. Gobbo said. "The only problem is, although there are few false positives, you can have some false negatives.” Dr. Gobbo also said there isn’t an absolute testing method. He said any time there is a large group of people together at one time, there’s likely going to be some incidents of spread. But, Dr. Gobbo said rapid testing has the ability to find positive COVID-19 cases even before a person starts showing symptoms.

Big Ten officials met this Sunday to discuss the potential of starting the season in mid-October. When officials made the initial vote Aug. 11, schools within the Big Ten voted 11-3 against starting the fall season.

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