Notre Dame football: Update on COVID-19 spread

Unfortunately, it seems as if Notre Dame football has become the next unwanted victim to COVID-19. Over a week ago, the Irish stated they detected a small outbreak within the team. During that time, 13 individuals were put into isolation. There was hope that Notre Dame caught this early enough to prevent further spread. Time has proven otherwise. Recent news broke that cases have grown throughout the team. As of Monday, there were 18 overall positive tests. With those new results, 25 players are now in isolation and 14 in complete quarantine. Things are not looking promising for the Irish, and there are many questions regarding if they can safely take the field again.

Pinpointing the Cause

There were many speculations on how the virus spread. The measurements and guidelines set in place are already very structured, as players are tested constantly and challenged to remain vigilant about social distancing. At the end of the day, being cautious can only take one so far.

Brian Kelly spoke on the matter with ESPN on Tuesday. He claimed doctors predicted the spreading came from two separate occasions. Both were suspected to happen when the Irish played South Florida on Sept. 19. The first instance occurred when they had a team meal before the game. Generally, team meals are always an aspect of pregame rituals. Because of the pandemic, the players had not sat down for a meal together yet this season. With the nature of sitting down and having food out for display in an indoor space, it was only a matter of time before an asymptomatic individual unwillingly gave the virus to someone else.

The other occasion happened during the game. A player became ill on the sideline and was treated for dehydration. There were no other injuries present, so the player was treated following correct protocols. It was not known the player was positive at the time. Because of the symptoms the player presented, the virus could have easily transferred to any players sitting near the ill individual.

Next Steps

Because the Irish are off this weekend, they have another week to try and extinguish the spread. As of now, Notre Dame is still scheduled to play Florida State on Oct. 10. Kelly says they have set additional rules in place to help prevent this outbreak from happening again.

First, they are going to change the environment in where they share their pregame meals. Their meals will now be held in larger ballrooms, allowing for adequate space in order to be socially distant. Face-to-face contact will not be permitted, as food distribution will occur in lines with the new protocols.

Regarding testing, there will now be rapid antigen tests available on the sidelines for players in case they present an onset of COVID symptoms during the game. This will allow cases to be caught as soon as possible, decreasing the risk of players who might be near the sick individual. In order to fight COVID, it is essential to take quick action and spot the source.

With these new protocols in place, Notre Dame football seems more prepared than ever for the next case. As of now, the Irish have to be patient. It is safe to say they learned from their mistakes and are hoping this nightmare will end soon.

Photo by Emma Farnan | The Observer