Reports: 'At least 5' Alabama players test positive for coronavirus

At least five Alabama football players tested positive for the coronavirus when they returned to Tuscaloosa this week, according to a report from BamaInsider.com. 

Alabama players returned to the area this week as voluntary workouts are set to begin next week. Multiple videos posted online on Tuesday and Wednesday showed Alabama players working out in large groups on their own without university coaches present.

According to Al.com, “at least one” of the players who tested positive attended the player-led workout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. That particular player was “asymptomatic,” Al.com is reporting.

CBS 42’s Simone Eli is reporting that players were tested on Tuesday, worked out with one another on Wednesday and the test results came back on Thursday. Per Eli, “nearly 50 players” attended the workouts.

Here is one video from the player-led workouts:

In a statement released to The Tuscaloosa News, Alabama said privacy laws prohibited it from sharing health information related to student-athletes.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is a top priority. Resources and protocols are in place to ensure they receive the best medical care when returning to campus,” the statement reads. “Due to privacy laws we cannot share information specific to the health of our student-athletes.”

On-campus athletic activities set to resume June 8

On May 22, the SEC identified June 8 as the date it would allow in-person athletics activities to resume on its campuses. The conference said return-to-campus processes would be constructed “at the discretion of each university” and would be done “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.”

All athletic activities had previously been suspended through May 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic

The SEC said June 8 would begin a “transition period” that will permit student-athletes on SEC campuses to “gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity.” In the days leading up to June 8, Alabama players have been gradually returning to Tuscaloosa to undergo medical screenings, including the test for COVID-19. 

The SEC formed a “Medical Guidance Task Force” to put a plan in place should an athlete test positive. Specifically at Alabama, athletic director Greg Byrne said the health and safety of the university’s athletes, coaches and staff members would be top priority. 

“Resumption of voluntary in-person activity is an important step in moving us towards the fall athletic season, which we are fully preparing for with a phased approach beginning June 8,” Byrne said in a May 22 statement. “In addition to our public health officials, we are fortunate to have an elite sports medicine staff here at Alabama, from our athletic trainers to our team doctors that we will continue to take direction from as we make decisions for a safe return. We look forward to welcoming back our student-athletes, coaches and staff to campus.”

Last month, Alabama head coach Nick Saban filmed a video urging fans to wear masks and abide by social distancing to ensure the football season can start on time.

“All of us want to make sure we play football this fall,” Saban said. “And to make that happen, we must be sure we stay at home if we have symptoms, wash your hands often, follow all social distancing guidelines and please wear a mask anytime you’re around other people.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban recorded a video promoting the use of face masks and social distancing. (AP Photo/Kent Gidley, University of Alabama via AP)
Alabama coach Nick Saban recorded a video promoting the use of face masks and social distancing. (AP Photo/Kent Gidley, University of Alabama via AP)

Alabama, which voted Thursday to fully return to in-person classes for the fall semester, is not the only university to have athletes test positive for the coronavirus. Oklahoma State announced Wednesday that three athletes tested positive. Elsewhere, two athletes and one staff member at Marshall tested positive, while four Iowa State athletes are currently quarantined after possible exposure to the virus. 

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