Kirby Smart: UGA football experiencing its ‘highest spike’ of COVID-19 cases this fall

ATHENS, Ga. — As the Georgia Bulldogs get ready for the first home game of the season, they could be without three or four players due to COVID-19.

Head coach Kirby Smart did not identify the players but said this is the highest COVID-19 spike the team has seen since fall camp.

“I’ll be honest with you guys. I’m as concerned as I’ve ever been and because we have three or four guys out with COVID and we have a couple staff members that have been out with COVID here recently. For us, we’re at our highest spike,” Smart said.

[RELATED: Smart urges Dawg Nation to get vaccinated in DPH video ahead of season kickoff]

Smart also did not identify the staff members but Ron Courson was already announced as one of them last week.

The Bulldogs trainer and executive associate athletic director for sports medicine missed Saturday’s Clemson game after he tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday. Courson remains quarantined at home.

“Ron’s doing well. He’s had a tough run. He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever met in my life. He’s never not been in this building on any day. He’s never not been here two days in a row, including spring break and off time. It’s killing him to not be here. His health seems good,” Smart said.

[RELATED: Sanford Stadium not requiring COVID-19 vaccine proof, tests for 2021 season]

Last month, the Bulldogs coach said at least 90% of his players and staff were fully vaccinated. On Monday, he said the cases the team is seeing are breakthroughs.

“So that concerns you, not only for the players on your team that are unvaccinated, that are playing and not playing, because we want everybody to be safe. But it concerns me for the players that are vaccinated that we could lose them,” Smart said. “It’s at the highest it’s been since fall camp right now. I think there is this relief that everyone feels like everything is back to normal. Just not for us right now.”

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Georgia is hosting its first home game of the season Saturday at 3:30 p.m. As of right now, UGA athletics will return to full capacity and will not require masks or proof of vaccination or negative test.

The University of Georgia is tracking the number of COVID-19 cases through DawgCheck program. If a student, professor or staff member tests positive, they are required to report it through DawgCheck.

Numbers for the last week of August were not available on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday. The cases reported have grown each week: 104 cases from Aug. 9-15; 231 cases from Aug. 16-22; and 457 cases from Aug. 23-29.

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