UPDATED: Athletics Director Confirms COVID-19 Outbreak on Cal Football Team
44 football players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases has affected the California Golden Bears football team, Jim Knowlton, California’s director of athletics, confirmed.
According to the city of Berkeley’s public health division, the COVID-19 outbreak affects 44 football players and coaches. The total includes so-called “breakthrough” cases, which occur when someone tests positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated against the disease.
Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing severe illness and reducing the transmission and spread of COVID-19.
“Cases emerged in an environment of ongoing failure to abide by public health measures,” said a Berkeley Public Health spokesperson in a statement provided to Write for California. The city department also added the California football program did not get tested or stay home when sick nor wear masks indoors.
“Everyone that wasn’t in the lineup last week and wouldn’t have been in the lineup this week are all COVID positive,” Knowlton told reporters Tuesday night. “For us, we’re 99.5% vaccinated. Everyone who didn’t make the trip was a positive. It wasn’t because of contact tracing.”
Last week, 24 football players and five coaches did not travel from Berkeley, Calif., for the game against the Arizona Wildcats because they tested positive for COVID-19.
“We didn’t have any further members of the coaching staff [test] positive today,“ Knowlton said of the football team.
There are two unvaccinated members of the California football program, including one student-athlete, explained Knowlton.
“But, they both had COVID,” Cal's athletic director said. “They weren’t going to get vaccinated because they had COVID.”
Last Thursday, the university said multiple football players are in “COVID protocol,” declining to say whether the student-athletes had tested positive or could not travel because of contact-tracing or isolation orders.
Earlier Tuesday, California announced its football game against the USC Trojans scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, would be postponed to Saturday, Dec. 4, the day after the Pac-12 Conference championship game, after more Golden Bears tested positive for COVID-19.
California will not forfeit the game against USC.
Before the start of the 2021 college football season, the Pac-12 Conference said: “If an institution is unable to play a contest through its own fault, it shall forfeit such contest to its opponent.”
“He has that discretion to be able to reschedule if both schools agree that it’s in the best interest of their student-athletes, and that’s exactly where we were today,” Knowlton said, referring to Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff.
(Updated with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and a spokesperson’s statement from the city of Berkeley’s public health division in the second and fourth paragraphs, respectively.)
(Second update: Clarified the affiliation of the unvaccinated people in the eighth paragraph.)
Hi all, I updated the story. The city of Berkeley's public health division confirmed there have been 44 "lab-confirmed" cases of COVID-19 from Cal's football team.
I was a little surprised to see Justbear write "Hopefully this is the end of extra cautiousness with covid." To start off with, Stanley McKenzie's dad just died from Covid. I think we could just stop right there. It's an ongoing, lethal threat. It's never magically disappearing like someone infamously said it would. We are a long way from it being a minor issue with over a thousand people still dying daily (November 8th 1,307 deaths). Even if no player dies or becomes seriously ill, a high percentage of people who have had Covid have long-term symptoms. If nothing else, they can hamper your athletic performance. Anyone remember that Clemson's football team had a HUGE outbreak last year. Hmm... how are they looking this year? Coincidence? At least one of them had serious long-hauler symptoms: https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32127148/clemson-defensive-end-justin-foster-my-struggle-long-haul-covid. Even if nothing happens to them, they can spread it to members of the community. People like Tony McKenzie. There is a GoFundMe for him.
This episode should reinforce that people and organizations need to continue to be vigilant. Multiple measures need to be taken. The Cal football team, from the information that is coming out, seems to have taken the approach of "Okay, we got the shots, we're all good now." At a minimum, they should have maintained masking while indoors, for prevention, and random testing, for detection. They should have told the guys to continue to be careful: "If you do go to the frat party, chug the beer OUTDOORS."