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As football returns to the University of Wisconsin and the Big Ten Conference, Public Heath Madison and Dane County warn against gathering for games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement regarding the decision to hold Badger football games, the city-county health board reported that 42 UW football players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon.

UW’s athletic department has not shared COVID-19 test results broken down by team or date, opting to share the cumulative number of positive tests. The athletic department’s latest figures, released Sept. 10, stated that 83 of 734 student-athletes have tested positive since workouts began on campus in June.

Of that 83, 25 tested positive at off-campus testing sites.

“We’ve already seen a record number of cases from the UW campus just from students moving in,” Dan County Executive Joe Parisi said. "While we all love our football Saturdays, the festivities that come with them are going to serve as new spreading events within our community. We have a lot of sick UW students right now — 88% of those who have tested positive are reporting symptoms — and this is before the weather gets colder and flu season arrives."

Public Health’s statement says holding a Badger football season “has wide-reaching impacts beyond athlete and student safety and will impact the health and safety of many people in Dane County.”

Public Health doesn’t have authority over UW’s campus or Camp Randall Stadium.

Badgers fans weigh in on return of football

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