Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said his program will change protocols after 18 players tested positive for COVID-19.
Kelly told ESPN on Tuesday that doctors linked the outbreak to a pregame meal before the game against South Florida on Sept. 19 and a player vomiting on the sidelines during the game.
A news release from the school issued on Monday said that over a six-day span last week, the school performed 273 tests on football players, with 18 positives. Now, the Fighting Irish have a total of 25 players in isolation and 14 quarantined because of their close contact with a person who tested positive.
Kelly said the team ate together for the first time since the start of summer practices before the USF game — and won’t be doing so again.
“Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together,” Kelly said. “Everything was grab and go. We get into our game situation where we have pregame meal together, and that cost us. Big. We had somebody who was asymptomatic, and it spread like wildfire throughout our meeting area where we were eating and then it got guys in contact tracing.”
Now, he told ESPN, the team will eat pregame meals in a ballroom at a convention center to allow players to stay socially distant. He will use a microphone to talk to the players during the gathering.
As for the player who became ill during the USF game, he was treated for dehydration because he didn’t have signs of a concussion or other injury. He tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
“We have to think about giving antigen tests on the sidelines for stuff that we never thought of,” Kelly said. “That’s the kind of shifting sands in this whole thing, learning in-game what do you do, what don’t you do.”
The next scheduled game for the No. 5 Irish (2-0, 1-0 ACC) is Oct. 10 against Florida State in South Bend, Ind.
–Field Level Media