Florida Gators Update COVID-19, Pause Activity For Two Sports and See "Minor" Uptick In Football

The Florida Gators athletic association shared their weekly updates in relation to COVID-19 positive cases and test across all Gator sports. The numbers are as follows:


Since Student-Athletes Returned to Campus on May 26

Total Tests on Campus: 1,564

Total Positives on Campus: 103

Total Tests for September: 528

Total Positives for September: 68

Since Football Student-Athletes Returned to Campus on May 26

Total Tests on Campus: 692  

Total Positives on Campus: 28

Total Tests for September: 230

Total Positives for September: 7


Due to an uptick in case numbers, the school has announced a pause on all athletic activity for Lacrosse and Baseball. In a release, the University Athletic Association said:


"The University of Florida’s Athletic Association is pausing all athletic activity for the Gators Lacrosse and Baseball programs due to a significant number of student-athletes that tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. As of Monday, lacrosse reported 31 positive cases and baseball reported 15.

Those student-athletes who tested positive, along with their respective contacts, will follow quarantine guidelines until they are cleared by health officials.

The athletic department released last week that it had just one positive out of 687 tests of student-athletes in August and seven out of 191 this month as of September 7."


The Florida Gator soccer team has postponed their 2020 season opener against Missouri—set for September 19—after three positive cases on the team led to widespread quarantine for those three and those who with whom they had been in direct contact.


Football Head Coach Dan Mullen spoke with local media on Monday and hinted at an uptick in cases coming, calling it a "minor spike."


"I think numbers come out tomorrow [Tuesday], we release the numbers for everybody. We'll have a couple more guys that have tested positive."


Mullen alluded that the spike was due to students returning to campus and credited his players with being as smart as possible with the infusion of new bodies and therefore probable cases.


"I give a lot of credit to our players. They’ve done an amazing job, I think, obviously anytime you infuse whatever 50,000 students on a campus you’re going to have a spike. Our guys, we have a minor one...but I give our guys a lot of credit for what they’ve been able to do and continue to do moving forward.”


The biggest concern, Mullen explained, was the appearance of false positives. According to a paper from the Harvard Medical School on August 10, the rate for false positives is around 5% or lower. The Center for Disease Control explains the likelihood of a false-positive is, "influenced by factors related to the testing scenario and the test being used (e.g., sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic test).


Diagnostic tests perform optimally for detecting an infection when the pretest probability is high. Pretest probability is the likelihood that the person being tested actually has the infection. This likelihood is based on both the proportion of people in the test population or group who have the infection at a given time (prevalence) and the clinical presentation (including symptoms and known exposure) of the person being tested.


In other words, the pretest probability increases with increasing prevalence in the population and clinical indications of illness in the person being tested. In contrast, tests typically perform best for excluding an infection when the pretest probability is low. Test sensitivity is the ability of a test to correctly identify persons with infection, whereas test specificity is the ability to correctly rule-out infection."


For Mullen, it is these false positives that are one of the biggest concerns as Florida and schools work to keep guys safe while also coming up quickly on a football season.


"That’s a huge concern, you know, you have these asymptomatic guys with multiple negative tests that, you know, they had one that was a false positive come back, some false positives come back. I don’t think that will be reflected in the numbers you get but we’re working very closely with all our local health officials. Our medical staff here is doing a fabulous job of everything, creating one of the safest environments in Gainesville if not the state of Florida, here within our football program."


If an athlete does test positive, they—along with those in close contact, identified through contact tracing—are placed into quarantine. The SEC rules for quarantine state an athlete must remain there for 14 days. Negative test in quarantine does not limit the length of quarantine.


The Florida Gators are scheduled to kickoff the 2020 season against Ole Miss 11 days. Testing results are distributed once a week, so it is likely that a player could have tested positive between last Tuesday (the 8th) and Friday the 11th and therefore would be completing their 14-day quarantine before the Ole Miss game. Football players are being tested twice a week.

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