David Chao, MD: Big XII Outbreak at OU, Texas Tech Can Be Contained

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The Big 12 chose to align itself with the SEC and ACC in deciding to play football this fall. The conference is now experiencing the rough waters of the pandemic.

Oklahoma has had all but one player in a position group wiped out with simultaneous positive COVID tests. Meanwhile, Texas Tech reports 21 active cases.

The position group spread is what most administrators, coaches and programs feared.

There has been talk of quarantining a quarterback in case the other got sick. Typically guys playing the same position meet together, dress together, practice together, dine together and often socialize together. Position groups have more inherent contact with each other day in and day out than any opponent they will cover, block or tackle on game day. The meetings are on zoom or spread out. The dressing areas distance. The dining is at separate tables and grab and go. What is most difficult to control football activity is maintaining social distance during practice. Position groups often line up next to each other, drill next to and against each other and then stand on the sidelines together for coaching and communication purposes. Coaches have to be creative to change this way of practicing or this will happen again and again.

Texas Tech is still practicing with despite their over 20 positives. It is unknown how the numbers got so high, but I would imagine it is hard to keep 18-21 year olds socially distant. I would like to think I would have complied when I was back in college (ok, maybe not) but realize that is a very tough ask.

The key is to not spread further to all 100 or so players.

With first games on Sept. 12, a little over two and a half weeks away, the typical clearance time from asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic players at 10 days, there is just barely enough time if these infections are contained.

The time to fix things is now. If it happens after this, games will be missed and/or forfeited. 

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. Great stuff Doc.

    I’m like Lavar Arrington and don’t think it’s right that health issues like this are discussed to causally by teams. It’s all politics. If this virus were something else contagious 😷 it would violate privacy. People could have all kinds of viruses walking around.

    When someone gets ill, you let them decide what want to disclose. Nothing before or after that either.

  2. People are always going to get the virus. Language employed from the outset in the containment efforts that set expectations/goals that somehow it’s possible to eradicate Corona have us at a point where every time a small group of people test positive, it’s national news.

    Young people get it. Don’t get sick. We need to move past this phase where every time people test positive, it’s an opportunity to revisit the same discussion points.

    BTW, ‘testing positive’ has become almost meaningless without context and the additional info as to whether people are sick or asymptomatic.

    Wake Forest had 150 roster, staff and team personnel tested and had 1 asymptomatic positive, and haven’t had 1 positive since. Where’s the national attention for that story?

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