As Southeastern Conference teams ready to begin voluntary workouts in the coming days, a handful of Alabama football players have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The positive results for at least five Crimson Tide players came as student-athletes returned to Tuscaloosa this week, according to a report from BamaOnline citing multiple sources.
LSU athletic director Scott Woodward joined a live town hall Thursday with The Advocate. See his comments on fans in Tiger Stadium this fall, protests of police brutality and more.
The players who have contracted the virus have not been identified as the SEC readies for workouts to begin as early as Monday. SEC sporting events and activities had been called off as the pandemic began to rage in March, which has already registered more than 1.8 million reported cases and 107,728 deaths across the nation.
It's unclear whether the athletes had already returned to campus when they tested positive and their current status in regard to the virus and symptoms. The SEC's recommendations for the resumption of activities included enhanced screening before players arrived on campus and for three days following their returns, as well as immediate quarantine and contact tracing for players who test positive for the virus.
Led by Shelly Mullenix, LSU has crafted a plan to keep its football players healthy when they begin voluntary workouts June 8. School leaders recognize the inherent risk of bringing groups of people into a concentrated area, but they think their protocols can contain the spread of the virus.
Alabama hasn't been hit hard as other Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana Texas and Florida, with 19,082 cases and 653 deaths reported as of June 4. But unlike Louisiana, where LSU is also in the process of returning to limited football activities, new cases have reached their highest point across the state in the past few weeks, according to data from the New York Times.
“We're in a good spot to bring our student-athletes back and bring them back in a safe environment,” said senior associate athletic director of facility management Dan Gaston last week. “We'll be ready for football when they report and be able to get in there and clean after every time. Then we'll start phasing in the other athletes as well.”
Louisiana has seen a significantly larger impact from coronavirus overall -- 41,562 cases and 2,772 deaths as of Thursday -- but with new case trends falling dramatically since the peak in mid-April. There have been no publicly reported cases of the virus so far among LSU student-athletes.
Tuscaloosa county specifically has registered 846 cases and 16 deaths. On May 20 it was reported that a cluster of workers at Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium had tested positive for the virus, temporarily halting work on the facility's ongoing renovation project.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Work on Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium has resumed after a number of workers tested positive for the coronavirus, temporari…