U of U football forced to cancel game vs. Arizona after COVID-19 found among players

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2018, file photo, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and his team prepares to take the field prior to their game against the BYU during an NCAA college football game, in Salt Lake City. The Utes were selected to win the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll and they're also ranked in the preseason coaches' poll. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The University of Utah's football game against Arizona Saturday has been cancelled because of COVID-19 cases among players on Utah's football team.

Utah Athletics announced the cancellation on Twitter about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a day before the game was scheduled to kick off the season for the university's football team.

"COVID-19 cases among student-athletes within the football program, which necessitates that Utah's game versus the University of Arizona scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7 be canceled," the tweet said. "The health and safety of our student-athletes and all associated with our program is our highest priority."

The game would have been Utah's first and in the first week of play for the PAC-12 that delayed its season start because of coronavirus concerns. Utah was to play seven games as part of a league-only schedule that was to have seven games for each team. All of college football has been grappling with changes and cancellations with the virus.

Utah, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a wave of new COVID-19 spread. Health and state officials said college-age students likely started the new wave of the virus that has now spread to other age groups. A record-case number in Utah was reported Thursday, with a record-shattering 2,807 new cases since results the day prior. Preliminary indications are that the state's daily release of COVID-19 numbers will not be encouraging when released Friday.

State leaders pleaded with Utah residents to change their behavior, as did nurses in Utah.

Utah's positive test rate is close to 20%, which state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said indicates the spread is not under control in the community. It is now currently known how many Utah players are infected, how serious their illness is, or if any coaches or staff are also infected.