The Big Ten on Wednesday announced it is partnering with a pair of companies in its effort to implement leaguewide daily antigen testing for COVID-19.
The rapid testing program was supposed to be in place beginning Wednesday at all schools in the conference. The Big Ten is set to use Quidel's Sofia 2 antigen test, and the testing will be administered on each individual campus by Biodesix and a contractor for that company.
The Sofia 2 platform is the same that Nebraska acquired earlier this month and had set up in East Stadium, so the transition from its own rapid antigen testing program to the conference-administered plan should be a smooth one. Athletes and staffers in close contact sports will be tested before every practice and competition.
Wednesday is as close to football as Nebraska and others have been — and for Mike Dawson, it marks the first time he can see his players up close.
Nebraska senior safety Deontai Williams' long wait to get back on the football field might finally be close to finished.
NU already is up and running with its program and was earlier this week pushing from 150-plus to upward of 200 tests administered per day. On Tuesday, senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann said the Husker players are typically tested in the evening and staffers are tested at another point during the day.
To start, NU said it was going to be able to turn around 30 to 50 tests per hour.
According to a news release from the Big Ten, Biodesix and employees of its contractor will be on campus this week and "will assume all day-to-day sample collection and surveillance testing responsibilities."
Up until Wednesday, NU had been using its own people to administer its rapid tests in the two weeks since it began ramping up its antigen testing program. A team doctor at Iowa, according to HawkeyeReport.com, said that the Big Ten is providing a maximum of 170 tests per day and indicated that anybody outside that group would be subject to contact tracing should they test positive.
The Big Ten also outlined a bit more of its plan about how the testing will work.
Anybody with a presumptive positive case will be referred to the individual school's health staff for a confirmation polymerase chain reaction test. Each school's chief infection officer — at Nebraska, that's UNMC's Scott Koepsell — is to report all confirmed positives to the Big Ten's medical subcommittee.
The results reported to the subcommittee will guide any determination made about altering competition or practice schedules in line with the league's protocols that it unveiled earlier this month.
Biodesix will also be doing random PCR testing to validate the accuracy of the rapid testing.