It wasn’t all good just a week ago for the Florida Gators, given that counting exactly seven days back from this Saturday afternoon would find them shaken by their first loss of the 2020 season at Texas A&M and without answers for a defense that had none of its own for the Aggies.
But a week later, after Dan Mullen’s Saturday announcement that he has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s clear that everything was different for the program as it made the trek back to Gainesville from College Station.
October 17, 2020
While Mullen does not give a date for his positive test, writing that it was “confirmed” suggests either a second positive test — perhaps one on Saturday following an initial positive on Friday — or other confirmatory testing. Either way, Centers for Disease Control guidance suggests that Mullen should only leave self-isolation and return to normal activity 10 days after any symptoms (which he does not mention) arose, so long as a fever does not persist.
It is thus likely that Mullen will thus not be returning to work as Florida’s head coach in a full capacity until sometime during the week leading up to the Gators’ Halloween game against Missouri — and while Florida getting practices in before returning to the field is somewhat secondary to the Gators getting every player back to full health and preventing any further spread of COVID-19, that timeline alone is a reminder that Florida’s season is going to remain massively disrupted for weeks to come by this week’s outbreak of cases.
Mullen testing positive days after what seemed to be a peak date for positive tests within Florida’s football program is also a reminder that there may be a long tail for spread within the team. And, finally, it means that the two most powerful figures within Florida’s athletic department have tested positive for the disease, with athletic director Scott Stricklin revealing in July that he had tested positive for COVID-19 in June and dealt with mild symptoms.
Thankfully, Mullen’s report of his testing also contains a somewhat optimistic note on the existing cases within the program: “Everyone impacted is recovering well and has reported mild to no symptoms.”
At the end of a week of heavy cloud cover, that’s a silver lining, at least.