The University of Florida football team was one of many programs that dealt with COVID-19 postponements during the 2020 season.
According to The Associated Press, Florida head coach Dan Mullen is hoping to avoid similar issues this fall. With coronavirus cases spiking again, Mullen says that Florida is approaching the 2021 season more cautiously, including spending some of fall practice in a hotel in an attempt to keep the players healthy.
“We’re going to have some protocols that we put in place,” Mullen said. “I think everyone’s a little bit more educated about it now moving forward. … I think there’s a lot more familiarity with it right now.
“When you look at our protocols, how we’re going about it within the ability to wear a mask, when we’re wearing them, what situations, indoor compared to outdoors, how we’re managing guys that have been vaccinated compared to non-vaccinated, I think we’re just a lot more educated on how we adjust within what we’re doing to keep everybody as safe as possible.”
Florida had games against LSU and Missouri postponed last October after Mullen, at least two assistant coaches and about 30 players tested positive following a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 10, 2020. Everyone on the team plane went into quarantine as all operations moved to remote work. The Gators eventually played the two postponed games and finished the season 8-4, including 8-2 in the SEC.
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COVID-19 concerns are ramping back up as the delta variant has led to another spike in coronavirus cases. According to The Associated Press, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana account for nearly 40 percent of all of the COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States. The vaccination rate in Florida is 49 percent.
Southeastern Conference policies say that teams with at least 85 percent of players vaccinated against the coronavirus won’t be required to test regularly or wear face masks inside team facilities. Mullen said Thursday that Florida is “probably over” 85 percent, but he didn’t commit to an exact number.
“I think we’re at a very, very high level on the team and within the organization as a whole,” Mullen said. “I’m feeling pretty comfortable with where we’re at.”
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