After just three games, the novel coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on pretty much everything in 2020 appears to have found its way into the Gator football program. And predictably, the COVID-19 outbreak has thrown up a blockade in front of the season.
A few days ago, Dan Mullen declared that he wanted 90,000 people to pack the Swamp on Saturday. Now it’s looking like there might not be anybody allowed inside the stadium that day at all.
Florida AD Scott Stricklin released a statement that read:
The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week. Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon.
Head coach Dan Mullen has been in communication with football players and their parents, and I have had conversations with the Southeastern Conference office, last week’s opponent Texas A&M, and this week’s opponent LSU.
These circumstances will be re-evaluated by UF Health and the athletic department’s sports medicine staff Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the University confirmed five positive COVID-19 tests within the program. That was what forced the shutdown of team activities. But Payton Titus, online editor of the Florida Alligator, reported that number was actually much higher:
— Payton Titus (@petitus25) October 13, 2020
UPDATE: two different sources have confirmed Payton’s report. Nineteen different members of the Florida Gators’ football program, including members of the coaching staff, have tested positive.
And yet that still doesn’t cover the complete list of people who this outbreak could be forced to sideline. Contact tracing could determine that additional players and coaches may have come into contact with the virus, and therefore have to be placed into quarantine, pending the results of a few more COVID-19 tests.
Add all that up, and this weekend’s game against LSU is not looking especially likely to take place. A postponement would presumably force the teams to have to make the game up on the blanket bye week the SEC instituted for this very purpose on December 12th, or maybe even this coming Sunday or Monday depending on what transpires the rest of this week.
More information will be published when it becomes available.