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Sources: 11 Florida Gators Student-Athletes Test Positive for COVID-19

After a strong start in returning student-athletes to campus, 11 Florida Gators student-athletes have tested positive for coronavirus.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Florida’s Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve McClain.

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11 Florida Gators student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, team sources have confirmed to Sports Illustrated - AllGators. One of those student-athletes tested positive through Florida's Screen, Test, and Protect Program, initiated to kick off voluntary workouts.

“Dating back to April, we’ve had a total of 11 student-athletes from several of our teams test positive. As we’ve said before, we will have positive tests and with guidance from UF Health, we feel we are well positioned to manage those cases.” - Florida Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve McClain

What felt like the inevitable has now become the reality. The University of Florida had managed to keep itself clear of a coronavirus outbreak for several weeks while student-athletes returned to campuses across the nation for voluntary workouts since May 26th. 

As of June 9th, UF's last update regarding student-athlete testing prior to the outbreak, 87 players had been tested with 80 negative results and seven pending at that time. Two student-athletes had tested positive outside of the return to campus program at that time, and are included in the 11 total positive cases.

This is a reality that the university has been preparing for since before the Screen, Test, and Protect program was unveiled, given the contagious nature of the disease. 

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“We’re fully prepared that we’re going to have a positive and we’re going to have to isolate that individual and also go through the state department of healthy tracing program," said associate athletic director of sports health Stacey Higgins earlier this month. "If it gets to be too many, that’s where the UF Health people will help us with that process.”

Schools across the nation. such as Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and multiple others have reported large amounts of positive cases since players began to arrive on campus. The University of Houston shut down its voluntary workout program shortly after it began, following six student-athletes testing positive for coronavirus while the Houston area saw an uptick in positive cases.

The NCAA Division 1 Council approved a six-week football preseason program on June 17th, allowing coaches and players to begin training in mid-July. However, in an interview with Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated earlier this month, NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee chair Shane Lyons warned that the preseason program could falter programs individually, depending on surges of cases.

“You could end up having a state that is having a spike and go back to Phase I,” Lyons told Sports Illustrated. “That’s where you’ll have to deal with it on a local basis and not a national basis.”

According to the Florida Department of Health as of a June 22nd update, over 98,000 state residents and over 2,100 non-residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 3,173 deaths. Over the past week, the state of Florida has consistently set new daily records in cases as testing has risen across the state, including a four-day stretch of 3,000+ positive cases per day and a daily high of 4,049 positives set on Saturday.

Alachua County, where the University of Florida is located, reports 737 positive cases and 11 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Video from Sports Illustrated's Daily Cover.