Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes that a longtime pregame ritual is the primary source of his team’s coronavirus outbreak.
The school said Monday that 18 more players had tested positive for COVID-19 last week. There are currently 25 Notre Dame players in isolation because of coronavirus and another 14 in quarantine because of potential exposure to the virus.
In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Kelly said that the school has been able to determine via contact tracing that a pregame meal before the season-opening game against South Florida on Sept. 12 is the main cause of the outbreak.
"Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together," Kelly told ESPN. "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."
Another cause of the outbreak, Kelly said, is possibly a Notre Dame player who threw up on the sideline during that game. The player was treated for dehydration during the game and then tested positive for COVID-19 the following Monday.
From now on, Kelly said Notre Dame’s pregame meals will be in a large enough venue to allow everyone to be socially distanced from one another. He also added that he believed that there was no on-field transmission between Notre Dame players and South Florida players in that game. South Florida had temporarily halted its workouts after finding out about Notre Dame’s outbreak.
Notre Dame played Duke the week after beating South Florida before having to postpone its Sept. 26 game against Wake Forest because the team had so many players either isolated or in quarantine. Notre Dame was previously scheduled to be off on Saturday before resuming the season on Oct. 10 against Florida State. The Wake Forest game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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