It's an election year, and politics is oozing into all facets of our society - including the fight to bring back Big Ten football this fall.
President Trump tweeted late Tuesday morning that he had a conversation with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, asking him what the federal government could do to help the league play football this fall.
Multiple national reports indicate the primary objective of the phone call was to discuss the availability of accurate, affordable, rapid testing. That is believed to be the biggest obstacles standing in the way of the Big Ten returning to action soon (but not the only issue).
Recently, the FDA approved a new rapid antigen test that could be the key to college athletics resuming. The White House appears to be willing to help in that effort. The White House purchased 150 million rapid tests last week from Abbot Laboratories. The new test is approximately the size of a credit card and is linked to an app on smartphones. The test is said to be reliable, can be produced by Abbot Laboratories for $5 per test, the results don't need to be sent to a lab and they are available within 15 minutes. It's a nasal swab test, but it's a much shorter swab than the uncomfortable ones that most tests have used to this point.
It's unclear how many tests the Big Ten would need to reinstate fall sports or how that distribution would work, but President Trump discussed some of those logistics with Warren after he previously said on Twitter that he wants to see the Big Ten back on the gridiron.
President Trump filled the media in last hour on his conversation with Warren.
The White House issued the following statement last Thursday regarding the new tests.
Today, the Trump Administration is pleased to announce the purchase and production of 150 million rapid tests to be distributed across the country. In March, President Donald J. Trump called for the development of a low cost, reliable point-of-care test. To deliver on this promise, the Administration has partnered with Abbott Laboratories to produce inexpensive and easy-to-use Abbott BinaxNOW tests. This is a major development that will help save more lives by further protecting America’s most vulnerable and allow our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and get kids back to school.
Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is leading the world in testing and the development of a wide range of reliable tests.
This announcement is made in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for this new type of antigen test in which results can be read directly from the testing card. Made in America, for Americans, these new tests exemplify President Trump’s whole-of-America approach, which harnesses industry and innovation to ensure America leads the world in combating COVID-19.
Through Operation Warp Speed and in partnership with Abbott Laboratories, final production will be scaled to an unprecedented 50 million tests monthly.
Furthermore, additional sources tell Lettermen Row that even though the league said it wouldn't revisit the postponement decision, the league could consider starting in October "due to the availability of these new tests, changing health guidelines and some improving positivity rates in the league footprint."