Unvaccinated athletes will be required to COVID test weekly at personal cost 

Maddie Loverich, Editor-in-chief

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Linfield University’s athletic director, Garry Killgore, announced Friday that the Northwest Conference will require athletes who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to test for the virus weekly. The decision differs from the NCAA’s current recommendations, which states that testing would only be necessary if less than 85% of the team is vaccinated. 

At Linfield, unvaccinated athletes will also be held responsible to cover the cost of their testing. 

“What we’re trying to do is to provide the safest, healthiest kind of environment for everybody that you can possibly provide,” Killgore said in an interview with The Linfield Review. “We raised a lot of money last year to do testing on a really regular basis, when there wasn’t a vaccination available. But now that the vaccination is available, people are choosing whether they want to do that or not.”

Physician’s Medical Center in McMinnville will help administer testing this year. The medical center also partnered with Linfield for testing last year, providing tests for $60 a piece. Killgore expects similar pricing for this year’s tests.  

“We’re working to try to make it so that [testing is] not too cost-prohibitive for people–but a cheaper way to go is to get vaccinated,” Killgore said. Vaccines are available at no-cost in the United States.

Killgore suggested that those who receive a medical exemption may have the opportunity to pay through insurance, but that is currently unconfirmed. 

“If they’re choosing to do the unvaccinated route, then they’re either choosing not to participate in athletics or they’re choosing to participate, but pay for their own testing,” Killgore said. 

Over the last academic year, Linfield randomly screened 25-50% of student-athletes weekly using antigen testing. High-contact sports, such as football and basketball, tested 100% of their members with PCR testing, which is a molecular test considered more accurate than antigen testing. 

Athletes will be allowed only one unexcused absence from a weekly test. The first offense will bar the person from competing for one week. The second offense will result in a season-ending suspension. Killgore said that the consequence is in place to hold athletes responsible and to ensure safety for their teammates. 

“It’s no different than any other team rule,” he said. “That’s a common thing to have happen if you if you violate team rules and, in this case, the greater team is Linfield.”

Killgore noted that he personally feels that it’s a public health issue.

“I view everybody on the planet, basically, as my teammates,” he said. “I’m trying to protect them by doing what I can do, which is to get a vaccination for myself.”