This story will continue to be updated as the league releases more information.
UPDATED 6/22 5:15 PM ET
The Orlando Pride announced today that the club is withdrawing from the NWSL Challenge Cup due to positive COVID-19 tests from both Pride players and staff. According to the NWSL press release, six players and four staff members from the Pride tested positive. The Pride’s official statement said that all players and staff were asymptomatic, but given that 10 people tested positive and the Challenge Cup is scheduled to start in five days on June 27, there is no room for the Pride to safely participate.
“While we were all looking forward to seeing the Pride return to the field, we are unfortunately facing a decision that is necessary and in the best interest for the health of our players and staff. The decision goes far beyond just the positives, but also taking into consideration roommates or partners,” said the Pride’s team doctor, Daryl Osbahr.
This follows on from an announcement on June 18 that a player had tested positive for COVID-19. It is not known at this time whether that player was on the Orlando Pride, or a different club.
UPDATE: Meg Linehan at The Athletic reported that the one player who was announced as testing positive on June 18 was indeed on the Pride, at which point Orlando stopped full-team training and performed contact tracing. According to Linehan, “multiple players” visited a bar in Orlando, which led to the testing that provided the first positive result.
Florida has now recorded over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 and has recently seen a record increase in positive cases, as well as an increase in percentage of positive results out of total tests, spiking as high as 12.4% last Friday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Most of the state was in Phase 2 of their reopening plan, which allowed businesses to open at reduced capacity, including indoor seating at restaurants and bars, and the opening of retail stores, gyms, salons, theaters, and others.
At this time, NWSL has not announced how it will handle this change to the number of teams in the Challenge Cup. Should they proceed, logistically not much may change since the Pride would have only played four games in the initial stage, and eight of the nine teams playing would have proceeded to the quarterfinals anyway. However, the state of Utah has also seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, with Utah health officials calling for Governor Gary Herbert to tighten restrictions again if the state does not reduce the average number of new cases per day by July 1.