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Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz out 3 weeks after positive COVID-19 tests

Oct. 28 (UPI) — Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz will be out for at least 21 days after he received a second positive test result for COVID-19.

Sources told the ESPN, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and CBS Sports that Mertz received the second positive test result Tuesday after he first tested positive last weekend. His 21-day absence is in accordance with Big Ten COVID-19 protocol for positive tests.

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Backup quarterback Chase Wolf also tested positive for COVID-19 after the Badgers win over Illinois on Friday in Madison, Wis. The Badgers lost first-string quarterback Jack Coan due to a foot injury he sustained earlier this month at fall camp.

Fourth-string quarterback Danny Vanden Boom would start if the Badgers are able to play Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

Mertz — a redshirt freshman — completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers win over Illinois. He set school records for completion percentage (95.2) and touchdown passes for a single game.

Wisconsin issued a statement on Sunday and said no players who participated in Friday’s game tested positive or reported symptoms before the game. The school also said they would not release testing information for any individual athletes due to “medical privacy.”

Badgers football coach Paul Chryst declined to comment on Mertz when he met Monday with reporters.

Big Ten protocol stipulates that if a team’s positivity rate exceeds 5% that team will not be allowed to play and their game will be declared a no contest. The conference determines positivity rate by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests administered.

“The No. 1 concern for the league, and I appreciate this, was how do we best keep everyone as safe as possible regarding the virus, and then how do you manage the impacts of it when someone has it,” Chryst said Monday.

“Admittedly, they told us it was more conservative, and if that helps one person, then that’s a good thing for us. We’ve known that there was a lot of work that went through this. For us to play, if that is something that’s in the best interest of everyone involved, then I completely support it.”

Wisconsin’s game against Illinois opened the 2020 Big Ten football season schedule, which was slated to begin in early September before it was disrupted and delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The conference announced in September that it planned to suspend play until the spring of 2021 before officials altered the plan and opted for a fall, conference-only schedule.

The Badgers’ next home game is scheduled for Nov. 7 against Purdue in Madison.

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