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USC football and men’s water polo teams are cleared to resume workouts

USC coach Clay Helton leaves the field after the Trojans beat UCLA on Nov. 23 at the Coliseum.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Nearly two weeks after their workouts were abruptly shut down due to positive cases of the coronavirus, the USC football and men’s water polo programs have been cleared to return.

The decision was made after USC conducted three rounds of testing in the last 11 days, with zero additional cases of the infection.

The pause was first initiated Aug. 26, after a sudden influx of cases off campus infiltrated athletics, resulting in nine additional positives between the two programs. It remained intact through Labor Day weekend, when USC football was originally slated to kick off its 2020 season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.

USC coach Clay Helton is trying to stay optimistic about the challenges the Pac-12 and college football face in playing games amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Football practices began again Tuesday morning although an actual start to football season for USC remains up in the air. A major breakthrough in testing, announced by the Pac-12 last week, will allow for USC and other Pac-12 member schools to conduct rapid, daily testing beginning as soon as the end of September. But testing remains just one factor in determining a full return for Pac-12 football.

Even with far less-frequent testing, USC had largely managed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus within its athletics programs, before its decision to pause Aug. 26. Among the 1,352 tests USC athletics conducted between mid-June and Friday, 17 were positive.


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