Coronavirus

Florida Gators pause all football activities following at least 19 positive Covid-19 tests

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 13: A helmet of the Florida Gators rests on the sideline during a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Covid-19 has gotten its teeth into the Florida Gator football program.

Just four days out from a critical contest with SEC rival LSU, Florida has put all football activities on hold following a coronavirus outbreak.

Nineteen football players have tested positive for Covid-19, a University of Florida athletics spokesman has told CNN on Tuesday. This was first reported by The Independent Florida Alligator.

This news comes after UF announced it was pausing team activities.

“The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week,” said Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon.

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The Gators are 2-1 overall, and fell to number 10 in the Associated Press poll following last Saturday’s loss at league foe Texas A&M.

Prior to the school canceling football activities, Gators head coach Dan Mullen had been advocating for an increase in fan attendance at the team’s home games.

“I know our governor [Gov. Ron DeSantis] passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the UF administration decides to let us pack The Swamp against LSU — 100% — because that crowd was certainly a factor in the game,” Mullen said following the team’s loss in College Station, Texas.

Each state has its own Covid-19 attendance protocols, and in Texas, venues are supposed to be at no more than 25 percent capacity. Many felt the Aggies appeared to exceed that limit in the win over Florida.

On the heels of Florida’s Covid-19 outbreak, Texas A&M says it’s evaluating its team and taking appropriate measures.

“We have been in touch with officials at the University of Florida and have also reviewed the available [contact tracing data] data,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “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.”

To date, Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher reports no positive tests, and the team will be tested again on Thursday ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game at Mississippi State.

Florida, meanwhile, joins Baylor as top-tier college football programs currently on pause due to coronavirus cases. The Gators game with visiting LSU is still scheduled for Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET in Gainesville, Florida. The defending national champion Tigers last played Saturday evening, falling 45-41 at Missouri.

Elsewhere in the SEC, Vanderbilt and Missouri became the league’s first teams forced to modify their schedule due to Covid-19, as their Saturday meeting has been postponed following positive coronavirus tests, and subsequent quarantining, at Vandy.

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