Updated: Jul 17, 2020
The Florida Gators have been luckier than most schools, keeping their COVID-19 infection rates to a minimum but Athletic Director Scott Stricklin revealed new numbers on Tuesday.
While speaking with local media on a Zoom call, Stricklin revealed that the University Athletic Association had tested athletes across all sports and received 29 total positive test results in return. Some of that is from multiple testing.
According to Stricklin there were 188 athletes across all sports initially tested, returning three positive results. An additional 50 tests have since been ordered for athletes where Stricklin says, “we had suspicion or symptoms to make us think we should test this individual.” From that 50, there have been 26 additional positives, bringing the total to the aforementioned 29 total positives.
“We've had some that have multiple tested.”
He would seem to be saying that of the 29, some of those were the same athletes, testing positive more than once. GatorBait Magazine has reached out to UF for confirmation of that explanation. We will update this story after an answer is received.
Asked the highest number in quarantine yet, Stricklin had to estimate and recall from memory, but said, “maybe a dozen. That’s probably our high-water mark from a quarantine standpoint, running off of memory there.”
Because of the two-week period required from quarantine, added the AD, and the sheer number of athletes continually being tested, there has always been somebody in quarantine. The number has averaged the single digits though.
“At any given moment we'll have anywhere from three to eight or nine quarantined, and probably three to five positive,” continued Stricklin
“We've been trying to keep it at, I don't want to say manageable level because you want zero, but we've been able to keep that number [low]. We continue to provide care for those athletes in quarantine, and make sure we try to head off any kind of systemic spread.”
As Stricklin continues to lead and navigate the Florida Gator student athletes through this unprecedented time, he will now do so with a greater understanding of the dangers of COVID-19.
“Last month, I actually tested positive myself for COVID,” Stricklin admitted to reporters.
“Fortunately had mild symptoms and was able in a couple of days to kind of go back to normal. But I just wanted to share that. I thought I was being careful, but obviously this is a highly transmittable disease, as Dr. [Michael] Lauzardo and others on campus keep reminding me.
“My symptoms were mild so I never really had any anxiety. I was kind of mad at myself that I had put myself in that situation. My family’s fine. Again, I quarantined. They asked me to quarantine for 10 days from the time of my onset of symptoms.
“I started feeling badly one night, it was a runny nose—it was pretty mild symptoms—congestion, runny nose, a little headache. Woke up the next morning, didn’t feel much better - slight chills. And it just, the first thing in this day and age that goes through you head is, ‘I wonder if this is it?’ Called up one of our doctors and they had me tested and I found out sometime the next day. I had about 48 hours where I felt really crummy and probably had another three or four days where I didn’t feel like going out and running a marathon. Then after that, I felt like I was back to normal. But I haven’t run any marathons since, but I have run since,” laughed Stricklin.
“So I do think it speaks to the importance of all of us doing our part and wearing the masks and physical distancing and all that stuff. Hopefully we can help keep others safe during this process by doing our part."
Stricklin, along with the other 13 SEC Athletic Directors, met in person for the first time in months when they all [socially distantly] gathered in Birmingham together on Monday. No official decision was made on football, other than to make a decision at the end of July. Other Power 5 conferences are steadily electing to play only conference games. The SEC did announce on Tuesday that league soccer, volleyball and cross-country would be delayed until at least August 31.
Said Stricklin of the decision, “I think Commissioner Sankey, in addition to just providing good leadership has been helpful in the way he's commented publicly. And his comments yesterday about, you know, the more time we can provide ourselves before we have to make key decisions we're probably going to end up making better decisions.”
There’s still a lot we don’t know about what Florida Gators football and fall sports will look like in the coming months, or if we’ll even see it this calendar year. But as the student athletes on campus in Gainesville continue to recover, Scott Stricklin met with the football leadership committee and passed along the most important message he could during this unprecedented time.
“I told them to make sure you guys understand the No. 1 priority for when we are able to begin having games again, is the health of our athletes and our staff and our fans. That’s the No. 1 priority. There’s a lot of talk out there about budgets and financial needs and all that stuff. It obviously helps support what we do in college athletics, but all of that is secondary to making sure that the health of our athletes, our staff and ultimately our fans is a priority.”