Florida Gators suspend football activities after COVID-19 spike, 19 positive cases

UF Health and the sports medicine staff will reevaluate the situation Wednesday.
Florida coach Dan Mullen reacts during the second half of a Sept. 26 game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
Florida coach Dan Mullen reacts during the second half of a Sept. 26 game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. [ THOMAS GRANING | AP ]
Published Oct. 13, 2020|Updated Oct. 13, 2020

The Florida Gators have suspended all football activities because of a spike in positive COVID-19 tests, UF athletic director Scott Stricklin announced Tuesday afternoon.

In test results available as of Monday, UF reported five new positives in the football program in the past week, according to its weekly update. By late Tuesday afternoon, that number was up to 19, as first reported by The Alligator and confirmed by the Tampa Bay Times.

Related: Gators' Dan Mullen deflects questions about filling the Swamp during coronavirus pandemic

Stricklin said in a statement that because of the “increase in positive COVID tests among players this week” team activities were being paused out of an “abundance of caution.”

Stricklin said he has been in touch with the SEC, last week’s opponent (Texas A&M) and Saturday’s scheduled opponent (LSU), while coach Dan Mullen has been talking with players and their families.

UF Health and the sports medicine staff will reevaluate the situation Wednesday, Stricklin said.

The No. 10 Gators (2-1) are scheduled to host defending national champion LSU (1-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday and Missouri on Oct. 24 before an open date.

The development also comes three days after Mullen drew nationwide backlash for saying UF’s administrators should open Ben Hill Griffin Stadium up to its full capacity of more than 88,000 fans, as allowed by Gov. Ron DeSantis' continued push to reopen the state. UF has said its COVID-19 protocols remain in effect, limiting capacity to about 17,000.

Mullen deflected most questions about those comments Monday but did defend the safety precautions he said his players, coaches and staff have followed.

“I think we’re a model of safety of what we’ve been doing during this time period,” Mullen said Monday. “So I’m really proud of how we’ve handled everything and how safe we’ve been with everything we’re doing and all the precautions we’ve had in place during this time.”

One SEC game has already been called off this week. On Monday, the SEC postponed Vanderbilt’s game at Missouri because of “positive tests and subsequent quarantining” within the Commodores. It has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12.

Since May 26, UF has reported 37 positives in football. Six of them have been in October.

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