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Florida Gators football team halts activities after new COVID-19 cases

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Over the past week, Florida coach Dan Mullen had five players test positive for COVID-19. He said Monday the he finds out about Thursday night at 11:30 who is probably going to be playing in that week's game. "That can always change on Friday," he said.

Update Oct. 14: Florida's game against LSU originally scheduled for Saturday has been postponed until Dec. 12. 

ORIGINAL STORY

Florida’s football game with LSU on Saturday in The Swamp could be in jeopardy after UF halted all team activities Tuesday afternoon due to an uptick in positive tests for COVID-19.

Over the past week, the Gators have had five tests come back positive, raising the total to six for October, according to figures released by the school Tuesday.

A few hours after the school posted those numbers, all football activities were shut down.

The Independent Florida Alligator later reported that 19 players tested positive. Florida reported its findings earlier Tuesday, but those results stemmed from last week's tests. The Gators test student-athletes three times a week, with football players getting tested Sunday at noon as well as Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

The team got Sunday's test results back before practice Monday, so it's possible that Tuesday's uptick is related to symptomatic issues and contact tracing.

"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," UF athletic director Scott Stricklin wrote in a news release.

"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."

Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said the Aggies have not been impacted as of Tuesday.

"We have been in touch with officials at the University of Florida and have also reviewed the available data from Kinexon contact tracing system deployed by the SEC. At this point, there has been no impact within our football program, but we will continue our regular testing regiment this week and stay diligent with all of our safety protocols."

The Gators are scheduled to play LSU at 4 p.m. Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Stricklin, who would not confirm the reported 19 positive tests, later said he wanted to calm the situation by stopping football activities. 

Since the players returned to campus on May 26, there have been 37 positive tests on the football team. Overall, student-athletes at UF have had 118 positives on campus since May 26.

UF does not reveal which players have tested positive, citing federal patient and student privacy laws. On each game day, the school does release a list of players who are not available for that day’s game for unspecified reasons.

The school listed 15 players who were unavailable for the Texas A&M game last Saturday, including defensive end Khris Bogle, starting defensive tackle Kyree Campbell and No. 2 quarterback Emory Jones.

No other UF athletes had positive COVID-19 test results out of an additional 437 tests, according to the school.

The virus has prompted schools and conferences to postpone more than two dozen college football games and forced many teams to compete without key players.

Vanderbilt’s football game at Missouri on Saturday has been postponed because COVID-19 issues have left the Commodores without enough available players. The Southeastern Conference announced Monday the game has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12. It is the first SEC game rescheduled due to COVID-19-related problems and the 28th FBS game overall to be postponed or canceled since Aug. 26.

Vanderbilt (0-3) played with only 56 scholarship players last week in a loss to South Carolina. Vandy had six players opt out of the season, including four offensive linemen.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.