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LSU head coach Ed Orgeron speaks during a roundtable discussion with Vice President Mike Pence, Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

No football players have yet informed Ed Orgeron they are sitting out the upcoming season because of health concerns with the coronavirus pandemic, the LSU coach told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club in its virtual meeting Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, the Southeastern Conference's 14 athletic directors gathered at league headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, for a meeting produced two major decisions: The league was delaying all competitions until September; and players who chose not to play sports in the fall because of health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 would have their scholarships honored by their schools.

So far, no LSU player has made that choice.

"I haven't heard that," Orgeron said Wednesday. "None of our players have talked about that. I know that they have the option. Our players are eager to play. These guys are elite. These guys want to win championships. They believe in each other. I don't expect much of that to happen."

Several professional and collegiate players have opted out of their football seasons while leagues grapple with constructing protocols that will allow them to proceed with games safely.

Illinois running back Ra'Von Bonner told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that "the risks are greater than the reward." The Big Ten Conference was the first Power Five league to cancel its nonconference games because of the virus, a move the Pac-12 made soon after.

On Tuesday, two New Orleans Saints tight ends — Cole Wick and Jason Vander Laan — opted out of the NFL season. Training camps fully began Tuesday, while the spread of the virus continues to surge nationally, and former LSU players Justin Jefferson (a first-round wide receiver picked by the Minnesota Vikings) and Blake Ferguson (a sixth-round long-snapper picked by the Miami Dolphins) both appeared on the NFL's new reserve/COVID-19 list.

Meanwhile, East Baton Rouge Parish broke the 10,000 confirmed case total barrier Tuesday, which prompted Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome to announce that her "No Mask, No Service" order will remain in effect until the parish enters Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.

The Louisiana Department of Health announced 69 new deaths in the state because of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest total since April 21 (77). There are only 15% of ICU beds are available in Region II, which includes Baton Rouge, and hospitalization rates are among the crucial health factors the NCAA and league offices are monitoring.

The SEC once expected to make a decision on its football season based on public health trends by the end of July, but league commissioner Greg Sankey has since clarified that such a timeline is no deadline.

The SEC's members, including LSU, have proceeded with football operations as scheduled. Last Friday, the NCAA allowed teams to hold walk-through practices with footballs and in-person meetings.

Orgeron told WNXX-FM, 104.5 that LSU had two-a-days Friday and Saturday, one practice Monday and Tuesday, and that the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, then twice Friday before breaking until the team reports for preseason camp Aug. 6.

As of now, Orgeron does not expect any players to opt-out of the season. Since the team's initial virus outbreak in June, which sources told The Advocate included five-to-six confirmed cases with players, Orgeron has said the team has been in more control through its safety protocols.

Orgeron said Wednesday "I think we have two guys right now" that have tested positive for the virus.

"We feel that we've done very well," he said. "When we're practicing, we're practicing with masks on. The coaching staff masks in the office. I really think we've handled it about as well as anybody in the country."


Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.