K-State medical director contributes to research behind updated CDC quarantine guidance



Credit: Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, KANSAS — Kyle Goerl, the medical director of Kansas State University’s Lafene Health Center, is part of a collaborative team that is providing research-based guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s latest research contributed to the updated quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Goerl is a co-author of the publication “Time from Start of Quarantine to SARS-CoV-2 Positive Test Among Quarantined College and University Athletes.” The publication appeared in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC on Friday, Jan. 8, and involved researchers from multiple organizations and universities.

The publication was one of many that the CDC considered for its update that provided shortened options for quarantine, Goerl said.

In the publication, Goerl and collaborators describe findings among a sample of COVID-19-exposed collegiate athletes in 17 states from June to October 2020. Twenty-five percent of the athletes tested positive during quarantine and the positive test occurred an average of 3.8 days after their quarantine started.

Yet, the probability of testing positive decreased as quarantine progressed. The probability of testing positive dropped from 27% after day five to less than 5% after day 10.

“These findings show that after 10 days of quarantine, the risk of COVID-19 is relatively low,” said Goerl, who is also the team physician for Kansas State University Athletics. “This helps to support a quarantine period that is shorter than 14 days. If the quarantine period is shortened, it may become more likely that people would follow important quarantine measures.”

In June 2020, higher education and collegiate athletic programs — including athletic programs at K-State — developed plans to safely resume sports. The plans included mitigation measures, such as physical distancing, face coverings, outdoor training activities, routine testing, isolation for COVID-19 cases and quarantine of close contacts.

The published study included data from 1,830 quarantined athletes at 24 colleges and universities.

Some of the important findings from the study:

  • The most common reported exposures varied: 40.7% of COVID-19 exposures were from social gatherings and 31.7% were from roommates.
  • Only 12.7% of athletes reported being exposed in their sports setting.
  • The most common sports played by quarantined athletes included football, track and field or cross country and soccer.

The published findings show that the safety measures work for collegiate athletic programs, Goerl said.

“The majority of exposures in college athletes came from social gatherings and roommates, not during sporting activities,” Goerl said. “Our results continue to show that the best way to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is to follow important mitigation measures at all times, not just during athletic programs. Continue to wear your face covering, practice physical distancing and follow good hand hygiene.”


The publication involves more than 12 authors from several organizations, including the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service, the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, University of Arizona, University of Washington School of Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center and North Carolina State University. The publication also involves other researchers with the COVID-19 Collegiate Testing Group as well as Matt Thomason, the head athletic trainer for the Kansas State University football team. Christine Atherstone with the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service and CDC COVID-19 Response Team was the publication lead author.

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