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KU football coach Les Miles tests positive for COVID-19

Health officials downplay 'Hawk Talk' exposure
Les Miles
Posted at 2:33 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 23:53:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — University of Kansas football coach Les Miles has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the Jayhawks athletic department announced Thursday.

Miles said he learned he had tested positive earlier in the day and was “beginning the isolation process at my home.”

KU, which is 0-3 in 2020, has a bye this weekend and isn't scheduled to play again until Oct. 17 at West Virginia. Miles “will continue to fulfill my head coach responsibilities remotely.”

He will not, however, be present at Jayhawks practices unless and until he has recovered.

“Although I will not physically be able to attend practice for the time being, I will be using the technology available for remote working to stay connected during staff meetings, meetings with players, etc.,” Miles said in a statement.

Kansas Director of Athletics Jeff Long said Miles’ case was caught through the program’s surveillance testing protocols.

“At this time, we believe he will be able to continue to perform his head coaching duties.” Long said in a statement. “Based on the other test results, no other coaches tested positive. As long as Coach Miles does not develop symptoms or have a fever, we anticipate he will be able to coach the West Virginia game on Oct. 17.”

Contact tracing is underway and surveillance testing will continue.

“Thank you for your prayers and support in advance,” Miles said. “I look forward to beating this virus and returning back to be with my team in person very soon. Rock Chalk!”

Miles took part in his weekly "Hawk Talk" radio segment Wednesday evening at Johnny's Tavern West in Lawrence, but the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department said attendees are not considered at high risk for exposure because of precautions in place.

"This is based on the protocols they had in place and implemented for the show, including social distancing, mask wearing during restaurant movement and use of plexiglass barriers," George Diepenbrock, a communications officer for the health department, told 41 Action News.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department is working with KU to identify anyone possibly exposed by Miles, a process undertaken by county disease investigators for all positive cases.

Close contacts are defined as anyone who spent more than 10 minutes within six feet of the infected individual within 48 hours prior to or after the onset of symptoms. Those identified as close contacts must quarantine for 14 days since the most recent exposure.

Miles, who led LSU to a national championship in 2007 and to a runner-up finish in 2011, is in his second season with Kansas.

The Jayhawks are 3-12 overall and 1-10 in the Big 12 under Miles.

“We wish Coach a speedy recovery and look forward to getting him back on the field very soon,” Long said.

The Jayhawks suspended football workouts in early July after 12 players tested positive for COVID-19.

Despite additional cases after resuming the voluntary practices, Kansas did not pause workouts after new cases were identified in late July.

There were a total of 40 positive tests among KU football players and staff during summer workouts, though the school said that doesn't necessarily mean 40 different players or staff tested positive.

The program’s first positive test was announced June 20.

The Big 12 announced in mid-August that all member schools would be required to test participants in high-contact sports, including football, at least three times per week during the fall sports season.

The conference added game-day antigen testing a month later for players, coaches and support personnel.

The Broncos-Patriots game will kick off at 4 p.m. on Monday on ESPN followed by the regularly scheduled Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans game at 7:15 p.m.

The Bills at Titans game will kick off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, if played, and will air on CBS.