The Florida Gators will remain in quarantine until at least Monday, Oct. 26, according to head coach Dan Mullen who spoke with the media on Wednesday via SEC conference call.
On Tuesday, the University of Florida reported there were 31 players currently on the team that tested positive for COVID-19, an uptick from the six that were previously reported on Oct. 13, and 10 more than the numbers reported by Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin on Oct. 12. Mullen also indicated that there was at least one other player who tested positive this morning with the test being conducted yesterday, Oct. 20.
While we await the full effects of the outbreak that has occurred within the Florida football team, the issue of where the virus originated remains a mystery, although Mullen shared his thoughts on where he believes the virus could have originated, and it stems from within his own team, on the trip to Texas A&M, a game that took place on Oct. 10.
"I think it definitely happened with the trip," said Mullen. "I don't think it was one specific aspect of the trip. Honestly, I think it started on the plane ride there, and then other aspects, you can kinda, I think you've got kind of the origins of - we think one or two guys might have been positive getting on the plane. Or might have had it getting on the plane, I don't if positive but, because they had just tested negative the day before.
"But it kinda started with a little bit of a spread there and then you go into, okay, well the one guy had a roommate on the road, so that spread to that roommate."
The Gators traveled to College Station (Tx.) on the Friday before the game, Oct. 9, and the team typically travels on a plane together. Last Monday, Stricklin stated that some players had symptoms that were not yet reported prior to the team traveling to College Station. It's at that time when a potential spread could have occurred.
"Then you had a pregame meal, where these people sat at a table where that spread. And then you had a plane ride home, where that spread. Someone's locker was next to somebody because you know when you go on the road, the locker rooms are much smaller. So we'll look at some of those things as we move, the road locker rooms, it's not like the NFL where, kind of, they're equal. You're crammed into this little tiny space on the road."
Moving forward, the Gators and Mullen will look into how the team utilizes the road locker rooms in order to prevent another outbreak of this scale occurring. While there is no sure-fire method in preventing any type of spread, there are further protocols teams and programs can take to mitigate it. Having players crammed into a small locker room together when one player or two players could be positive would not be indicative of a safe and healthy environment.
For now, Florida is expected to return to "normal" on Monday, Oct. 26, in hopes of playing its first game back from an extended bye period against the Missouri Tigers.