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Florida vs. LSU postponed after Gators’ COVID-19 spike

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Florida and LSU will not resume their rivalry this Saturday, and are tentatively slated to do so in December.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators’ Saturday meeting with the LSU Tigers has been postponed after an outbreak of COVID-19 among Florida’s football program, the SEC announced Wednesday.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin addressed the postponement throughout a Zoom-based teleconference at 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, noting that Florida has “less than 50 scholarship players available currently.”

The announcement followed numerous reports of the imminent postponement, a first citing LSU-based sources from LSU beat writer Brooks Kubena of The Advocate and the first citing Florida’s side from John Brice at FootballScoop.

Florida-LSU is “tentatively rescheduled for December 12 in Gainesville,” per the SEC’s release. That game would take place a week after the conference-only regular-season schedule ends, and a week before a prospective 2020 SEC Championship Game.

Florida paused all football activities on Tuesday after announcing five positive COVID-19 tests for players within the program. Multiple subsequent reports on Tuesday revealed a much higher total of 19 positive tests, reporting on Wednesday suggested another 10 players were likely set to quarantine, and Dan Mullen revealed during his participatin in an SEC teleconference that two assistant coaches also tested positive.

And it’s possible that numbers will continue to rise. Adam Silverstein of Only Gators reports that half of Florida’s coaching staff and more than 20 players tested positive in Wednesday testing, and Florida is set to continue daily testing after switching to it on Tuesday from a thrice-weekly testing protocol.

Stricklin said during his press conference that the suspicion among those involved in Florida’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 is that the Gators’ trip to College Station last weekend is partly to blame for the surge in positive tests, possibly because of the increased proximity of players to each other while indoors on a road trip. But Stricklin also noted that multiple players who traveled for the game only reported symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection after the fact, initially thinking that those minor symptoms — which manifested as early as last Friday — might have been related to allergies.

Stricklin also provided revised numbers — 18 scholarship players and three walk-on players are currently positive — for positivity, and, in a rare bit of genuinely good news, noted that all those currently positive are either asymptomatic or experiencing only mild symptoms.