Notre Dame traces COVID-19 outbreak on football team to pregame meal and player vomiting on sideline

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Head coach Brian Kelly looks on during warmups prior to playing the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. - Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America/TNS

Notre Dame will resume football practice Wednesday despite having 39 players in isolation or quarantine due to a COVID-19 outbreak that ESPN.com reported was traced to a pregame team meal and a player vomiting on the sideline.

The Irish reported 18 new positive tests Monday. The outbreak from events around the Sept. 19 game against South Florida has resulted in 25 players in isolation and 14 others in quarantine due to contact tracing.

Coach Brian Kelly told ESPN.com the team will change its pregame meal routine to eat in large conference rooms to allow players to spread out. He also said rapid antigen tests now will be available on the sideline during games.

The player who vomited during the South Florida game was initially treated for dehydration before testing positive Monday, Kelly said.

“Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together,” Kelly said in the report. “Everything was grab and go. We get into our game situation where we have pregame meal together, and that cost us. Big. We had somebody who was asymptomatic, and it spread like wildfire throughout our meeting area where we were eating, and then it got guys in contact tracing.”

Kelly told ESPN.com he expects almost 90% of the team to be available for practice by Saturday. The Irish have the week off before facing Florida State on Oct. 10.

Last week Notre Dame postponed its game against Wake Forest until Dec. 12 after seven new positive tests resulted in a total of 23 players in isolation or quarantine.

Kelly said Notre Dame did not think much on-field transmission took place against South Florida, but the report did not say how that conclusion was reached.

Kelly said he believes “college football is in good shape.”

“Having gone through what we went through, we’re feeling pretty confident that that’s not going to be the area that we need to keep an eye on,” Kelly said of on-field transmission. “The area we need to continue to keep an eye on and be vigilant is your own team as it relates to social distancing, masks, when you’re eating, things of that nature.”

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