Florida Gators Update COVID-19 Numbers, AD Scott Stricklin Tested Positive
Florida Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin provided updates regarding the Florida Gators preparation for a looming 2020 season amidst the global coronavirus pandemic and the challenges that preparation presents on Tuesday.
The obvious challenge is student-athletes becoming infected with COVID-19, something that Florida has seen an uptick in recently.
According to Stricklin, a total of 29 student-athletes across several teams have tested positive for coronavirus across 238 tests, up from 11 positive cases reported by Sports Illustrated - AllGators on June 23rd. This comes from a mix of student-athletes put through the Screen, Test, and protect program as well as student-athletes who remained on campus, through this past weekend.
Of those 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19, three positives were found across the 188 initial return-to-campus tests for voluntary workouts, which kicked off June 8th after student-athletes began returning in waves on May 26th. Meaning, 26 positives have emerged from the 50 tests taken since.
"I get a report from our football trainers regularly, any given moment we'll have anywhere from three to eight or nine quarantined, probably three to five positive, I think it was one the other day positive," Stricklin told the media on Tuesday. Up to a dozen have been quarantined at one time, he added.
"So just, we've been able to try to keep it at, I don't want to say a manageable level because you want zero, but we've been able to keep that number, we continue to provide care, and as for those athletes in quarantine, the ones we needed to quarantine, make sure we try to head off any kind of systemic spread."
Stricklin said that he tested positive for COVID-19 himself in June, experiencing mild symptoms including headaches and congestion which led to a positive test and 10 days of quarantine. Noting how transmittable coronavirus is, Stricklin made note that he had been practicing social distancing and wearing a mask before contracting the virus.
"The first thing in this day and age that goes through you head is, ‘I wonder if this is it?’," Stricklin said of his symptoms. "Called up one of our doctors and they had me tested and I found out sometime the next day."
Having athletes constantly in quarantine is putting tremendous stress on the idea of having a college football season this fall, as Stricklin made note of on Tuesday. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on Monday that no decisions would be made in regards to a fall football season until the end of July.
However, following the Big Ten and Pac-12's decisions to move to conference-only football this season, it feels as if the dominoes are all falling in that direction and towards the very real possibility of postponing, or even canceling, the season in its entirety. Should there be no sports, Stricklin added, student-athletes will remain on scholarship, receive cost of attendance cash, and other benefits.
The situation at hand when one starting offensive lineman, for example, tests positive for coronavirus after lining up in a five-man unit during game week, leading towards quarantining the group, would of course alter game plans significantly, not to mention the continual human health risks a season would present amidst the pandemic.
"The other thing, though, is it's really pointed out what a lot of the challenges are going to be related to quarantining," said Stricklin. "Quarantining healthy people who have had exposure to those who have tested positive, and how widespread that's going to be."