Pooled testing: Coronavirus tests threaten athletic budgets

In the wake of a pooled testing phase, the Coastal Carolina was doing pretty good as regards their budget until they were pegged back after a 15% cut. The primary reason for the budget cut was said to be as a result of little inflow of cash from the state and the students because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the realization that tests would be carried out on staff and athletes of the school at large, Matt Hogue, the school Athletic Director, frantically searched for ways to reduce cost.

According to the register of the school’s athletes, they will have to test up to 450 athletes and testing all will cost a fortune. To save cost, a specialist has advised that varsities adopt the pooled testing method but warns that it might not save time and stress.

Schools are managing budget, Matt Hogue says

The Athletic Director was soon going to find a way after a long time sponsor of the school pledged to provide them with free tests while athletes are gearing up to resume.

In Hogue’s words, he said, You have to employ some basic thinking because we are at an institution where you want to keep a tab on how your dollars are spent. Here, we can’t just write a check every time because we closely watch our budgets, the Director said.

Athletics department cannot always look to their insurers or ask the families of the athletes to foot the bill for their tests. With the new pool testing procedure, Hogue affirms that funds would be managed and resources used adequately.

The federal guidance issued on June 23 stated that insurers could only be responsible for students testing provided they show apparent symptoms or have been in contact with asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

On their part, East Carolina is currently dealing with footing the bills for all tests, which has made them suspend four university sports in May. East Carolina Athletic Director John Gilbert has said that the school’s total budget for testing is $100,000 but might exceed that saying that some schools might spend well over $500,000.

Specialist advises schools to use a pooled testing method

Gilbert noted that the challenges are too much, stating that students might be allowed into the school at resumption and be tested, but once they mix up, they might be a high risk of infection, which means everyone is vulnerable.

Both Hogue and Gilbert have said that they follow the standard testing guidelines given to institutions across the country. With the financial implications considered, experts have advised that schools adopt the pooled testing method, which would test more than one athlete. 

Eurofins lab president, Sean Murray, has stressed that the pooled testing procedure can test a wide range of asymptomatic people while hoping that few of them come back positive.

A typical example of the pooled testing method is taking samples and combining half of each with running as one test. If they all test negative, they will be cleared to go, but if one tests positive, then an individual test is carried out.