Florida Gators awaiting next round of test results, two assistants test positive

Florida head coach Dan Mullen reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game...
Florida head coach Dan Mullen reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Mullen was given several more chances Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, to walk back bizarre comments about wanting to pack 90,000 screaming fans inside Florida Field during the coronavirus pandemic. He declined each of them, brushing aside criticism and insisting he's focused on defending national champion LSU. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)(AP Photo/Thomas Graning | AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 12:32 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida and LSU are in a holding pattern.

After a COVID-19 outbreak on the Florida Gators football team saw 19 players test positive on Tuesday, the team is now awaiting results of a new round of testing from Wednesday morning.

“I don’t want to speculate where we are right now,” Gators head coach Dan Mullen said during a teleconference call on Wednesday. “We’re taking an abundance of caution. We’re pausing all activities until we get the results of today’s test back. We came in and tested early this morning. We’re certainly hoping and everybody that we’ve worked for getting these tests back before we conduct any team activity to make sure that we’re keeping everyone as safe as possible.”

RELATED STORY: Florida Gators football pausing team activities after 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases

According to Mullen, two Florida assistants have tested positive from Tuesday’s round of testing. He has not tested positive, however.

“The entire team again tested today,” Mullen said. "Both coaches that did test positive were asymptomatic so we’re going to wait to get today’s test results to see where we’re at.”

The SEC requires a person to two consecutive negative tests to officially declare a result as a false positive. Teams are required to test three times a week, however, Florida has turned to daily testing since the outbreak started.

The team has paused all team activities with the current outbreak and the LSU game on Saturday remains in limbo.

“I would think that would come today,” said Mullen about a possible decision about whether the game will be played or not. “To be

honest with you it’s hard for me to speculate until we get the test results back for today as to where we’re at. I would hate to lead anyone on or speculate on that. I would think today, by today, for everybody involved that we would have some more answers.”

"Obviously, 2020, it’s what we’re dealing with, " LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. "I really think that the safety of the kids is primary focus this week. If it’s safe for us to play, we’re going to play. If the best thing is for us to not play, we shouldn’t play.

RELATED STORY: Gators head coach Dan Mullen wants the Swamp packed at capacity next week

Mullen defended the program’s procedures to keep the team safe.

“I think our medical staff has done a tremendous job since we reported back in July putting safety protocols in place with an abundance of caution within our program,” Mullen said. "Through the month of August and September...we only had one positive test. Talking to some of my peers around college football I think we’re still on the very low number of positive tests.

“What we did is our medical people, we saw a spike with positive tests on Sunday’s test and a couple of guys showing not just COVID symptoms but cold symptoms, so we immediately started testing guys for both the flu and COVID. The only protocol we have changed was instead of doing our conference Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday testing we’ve gone to everyday testing. So we’ve tested now … today was our fourth consecutive day of testing.”

The main concern for Florida circles around scholarship numbers.

A look at Florida football's scholarship numbers and how it could be affected by COVID-19.
A look at Florida football's scholarship numbers and how it could be affected by COVID-19. (WCJB)

Florida currently has 81 scholarship players on the roster. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Gators already had a few players injured or unavailable including: defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, offensive lineman Ethan White, quarterback Emory Jones, safety Brad Stewart and cornerback Ethan Pouncey - this drops the scholarship count to 76.

The SEC suggests these minimum roster requirements that includes: at least 53 scholarship players available, including a quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.

If all 17 (two of the 19 were coaches) were scholarship players that would bring down the number available to 60. This does not account for players that would become available due to contact tracing.

RELATED STORY: University of Florida President Kent Fuchs says stadium capacity will still be reduced

This outbreak comes after Mullen received a lot of backlash from his pack the swamp comments after Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M.

“I’ll try to clarify those comments again from my Monday press conference, which was this: We played Texas A&M last weekend,” he said. "I thought, I don’t know what their capacity within the stadium was, but I thought the people that were at the game, all of their fans created an exciting gameday environment. They brought a lot of energy to the stadium and I think that certainly helps all the players on the field.

“We’re pretty blessed here at Florida to play in the Swamp. And the Gator Nation, when the Gator Nation’s in the stands, they bring a tremendous amount of energy. It’s one of the great things of playing, the energy that the fans bring and how that supports the team. And as I said on Monday, to me, one of the things I want to encourage was whatever our local health officials come and out say, ‘This is the number of people that we’re going to allow at the game right now,’ that we want to make sure that, I want to encourage those people to come in, bring the energy, bring the excitement into the stadium and help our team to win and bring that energy that they bring of what makes the Swamp such a special place to go play in.

“I have tremendous respect for our local health officials,” Mullen added. “I think they’ve done a great job for us here at Florida. One of the things, and I think a lot of my comments maybe got taken into what I’m demanding, but it was more that whatever our health officials allow us to have in, that’s what we want to have in the stadium to keep everybody safe and healthy and as well as create an unbelievable environment for our players and create energy within the stadium.”

Stay with WCJB as we continue to follow the latest developments.

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