UGA, in COVID ‘hot spot,’ tries to avoid outbreak

  • ACC reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2010.
  • Graduate of the University of Florida.

MIAMI — Now that the Georgia Bulldogs have arrived for the CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl, players said during their first availability Monday they are fully aware of taking the necessary precautions to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

With three bowl games canceled and another in jeopardy, increasing attention has gone to how teams are trying to keep players safe as the omicron variant has seen increasing cases not only across the country but across sports leagues as well.

Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine estimates “98 or 99 percent” of the team is vaccinated, but the Bulldogs are wearing masks indoors and making an effort to avoid contact with anyone not on the team as they prepare to play Michigan on Friday.

“Definitely excited to be in Miami, but as we all know, it’s a hot spot for COVID,” defensive tackle Jordan Davis said. “We just have to make sure that we protect ourselves and wear our masks, and just enjoy the moment. Obviously, bowl week is a great time for team chemistry and getting to know each other a little bit better than we already do. We’re just excited to be here and have fun in Miami.”

Linebacker Nakobe Dean said the team was able to enjoy a bowl event — dinner on a boat — Sunday night after its arrival. Then players had time to themselves, and most stayed in a players’ lounge set up in the team hotel.

“We’re trying to stay safe from this new variant,” Dean said. “So for the most part, we’re just staying around each other in the player lounge and just chilling on our free time.”

Cornerback Chris Smith said coaches are reiterating what they have told players all year, emphasizing mask wearing and washing hands.

“They’re just stressing us to be safe and make good decisions,” Smith said. “COVID is pretty much everywhere right now, so you can’t really dodge it, but the things we can do as players, coaches, as a whole team is just try to be safe because it’s getting really crazy out here. So they’re just reiterating the fact that we need to be safe, wear masks, wash your hands, stuff like that, to make sure that we don’t have a breakout.”

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