Bronco Mendenhall rethinking protocols, after UVA’s first contact with COVID-19

Bronco Mendenhall rethinking protocols, after UVA’s first contact with COVID-19
Bronco Mendenhall - courtesy UVA Athletics (Source: UVA)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia Athletic Department released its latest COVID-19 numbers on Monday.

Over the last seven days, there were 1,012 tests administered, and twelve resulted in a positive test.

Since testing began in July, UVA has issued 6,004 tests, with 76 total positives.

After three months with no positive tests, the football team was hit for the first time last week, as seven players, and one coach, tested positive before the game against Clemson.

“We went so long without a positive test, I almost think that we possibly considered, like it wasn’t going to affect our program," head coach Bronco Mendenhall, with a laugh. "Somehow we were going to be the team that it wasn’t going to hit.”

Mendenhall says the positive tests have led to heightened awareness in the program.

“As you can see, my mask now, the virus is going to have to come with a drill to get through this thing," says Mendenhall. "It’s hard to breathe, but my wife and I are trying everything possible.  I don’t know if I’m next, you know?”

The first road trip during COVID was a learning experience.

Mendenhall says, "We probably hired out every bus that company had, when we were at Clemson, and there’s like six people per bus.  It seemed so excessive, but we’re trying to do the same thing with every space we have.”

Meetings with the players take place in the large, indoor practice facility.

The coaches meet virtually, even when they’re in the same building, and Mendenhall says they have even more precautions.

“Any time there is a meeting that’s not by Zoom, they’re in plexiglass, almost the equivalent of phone booths, in the same room.  It’s like a game show where you go on, and you’re not supposed to hear what anyone else says.  It’s like that.”

Mendenhall says Contact Tracing can be as problematic to a roster as positive tests, and they’ll be rethinking all their protocols, after their first brush with the coronavirus.

“Let’s face it, the thought that it could or will happen again, I would have to say, it’s likely,” says Mendenhall. "When you have this many people doing the same things, daily, and having the contact we are, even as effectively as we’ve done it.  I still am learning.  We’ll try to mitigate it the best we can, after I’ve now seen what this looks like a little closer than just hearing about other programs.”

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