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Jumbo Package: What do asymptomatic COVID positives mean for the season?

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. You probably saw that Alabama football had some positive COVID tests.

At least one of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 was in attendance for player-led workout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The player was asymptomatic during those sessions, which the Crimson Tide coaching staff was not involved in coordinating.

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

All of the players are asymptomatic, which is good. Byrne rightly prioritizes the health and safety of the players themselves. The question is whether extreme measures to prevent them from getting the virus are a part of that.

Team doctors are undoubtedly privy to the data that increasingly suggests the risk of complications for a college athlete to be very low. Antibody tests have shown the virus to be far less lethal than originally feared, with a fatality rate of only .26% according to the CDC “best estimate” (.4% of symptomatic cases) including a mere 1/2000 risk for those under 50, and that includes people with comorbidities. Only an estimated 1.7% of symptomatic cases in people under 50 require hospitalization.

Now, the whole concept of preventing the spread, to players’ families and just in general, is another animal, and there are obviously lots of other people in the department who could be at greater risk. Looking at Byrne’s comments though, he speaks of medical care, not quarantines. Iowa State, by contrast, quarantined four players pending test results just because they had come in contact with a person who tested positive. It will be interesting to see what happens in Tuscaloosa over the next few days.

In any case, there certainly doesn’t seem to be uniformity from school to school. Based on the data above, my personal opinion is that the risk is low enough to allow players and their families to make the decision. The NCAA should offer a medical redshirt to any player who wishes to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID, no questions asked. The rest will have to be closely monitored for symptoms with treatment protocols in place for any player who shows them. I doubt that anyone involved with Alabama, the SEC or NCAA asks me, though.

Plans are being made in case there is a second spike that coincides with flu season and requires additional mitigation.

In a call on Wednesday with members of the House Republican whip team and other sports executives, the association’s president, Mark Emmert, said he anticipated that the college football season would begin around Labor Day as usual if games could be held within the regulations and guidelines of individual states.

But Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who participated in the call, said that Emmert also said the schedule may ultimately be truncated and that certain championships, like conference title games, could be played by Thanksgiving.

The N.C.A.A. declined to comment. Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, which operates apart from the N.C.A.A., said playoff organizers were “planning to play on schedule” in January 2021.

Hope for the best.

Last, Kira Lewis is apparently moving up boards.

“New Orleans can go in a number of directions with this pick, having addressed needs at multiple positions in last year’s draft,” he wrote. “Whoever they draft shouldn’t be pressured to play much right away given the amount of talent on the roster. Lewis would be an interesting long-term investment, having made marked improvement over the course of the year at Alabama, and being a young sophomore who compares favorably with most of the freshmen in this draft. He’s arguably the fastest player in the class, and his development track is certainly encouraging.

“With Lonzo Ball approaching restricted free agency, adding a developmental point guard here addresses a potential need. On paper, Lewis fits New Orleans’ uptempo style, particularly if his playmaking continues to improve. He’s in the mix for teams starting in the late lottery.”

Seeing him go as high as #13 two years after Collin Sexton went #8 would be great for recruiting purposes. John Petty was not listed in this particular mock. Stay tuned on him.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.