Thousands sign up at launch of COVID-19 testing program for athletes


SAN DIEGO – Less than 24 hours after launching, thousands of players and coaches have signed up at the website, which is connecting athletes to free COVID-19 testing now that they’re getting back on the field.

“I’m getting superintendents, school board members, a litany of principals, athletic directors from all over,” said Scripps Ranch Football Coach Marlon Gardinera, who designed the website. “I had no idea the demand for the solution would be so great. I had no idea the gravity and the reach and the need that’s out there.”

Coach Gardinera is part of the group “Let Them Play,” which filed a lawsuit against the State of California claiming if collegiate and pro athletes can play, then all high school athletes should be allowed to play too, not just outdoor sports.

A San Diego County judge agreed, ruling in the group’s favor just weeks ago. However, the judge said athletes needed to be tested as frequently as college players. As a result, testing needs to take place weekly and within 48 hours of competition with another team.

The question then became, who would pay for it all? The state agreed to pick up the bill for certain sports, but others are left to make plans on their own. That’s where Gardinera and Let Them Play came in. Partnering with nine organizations through the new website, they can bring tests directly to schools or practice fields.

“Yes, they can come to your school,” Gardinera confirmed. “There is no cost for testing, they will either bill insurance with a copay or the CARES Act because we still need testing data. I can assure you our alliance partners are not charging you for PCR testing in schools, districts, clubs or teams.”

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