SJSU’s hot start may face coronavirus threat as health officials mull plans

San Jose State football is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1955 with a chance to hold onto the Valley Trophy against rival Fresno State on Saturday. On the field, things are going about as well as they could for the Spartans.

But with Santa Clara County moving back into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions this week, the Spartans could face a familiar set of hurdles. SJSU athletic director Marie Tuite says she won’t know how the strict protocols will impact organized sports — or any athletic program at the university — until she can sit down with county health officials.

“Right now, the very explicit protocols from the Santa Clara County health officials are not designated to a specific kind of tier,” Tuite said on a Monday afternoon call with reporters over Zoom.

“So, as of this moment, things are moving forward. That doesn’t mean it won’t change. As we have from the beginning, we’ll take guidance from health officials before we make decisions for our football program.”

In a news conference on Monday afternoon, Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health officer, said officials are concerned about sports at all levels, but did not outline any imminent plans to increase restrictions on teams.

“We are in the thick of discussions on how sports play within this new information that we have,” she said. “We did not expect to be landing in the purple tier right now.”

If the county tightens protocols for organized sports teams, the Spartans have experience circumventing strict local protocols. Santa Clara County was in the purple tier — prohibiting 11-on-11 contact drills — in the weeks prior to SJSU’s season opener against Air Force. So the team moved its practices 320 miles north to the town of Arcata in Humboldt County with promises to follow health protocols on the Humboldt State campus for what amounted to a two-week stay.

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Humboldt County jumped from yellow (minimal threat) to red (substantial threat) on Monday as cases continue to rise across California. And Tuite said she’ll wait for further directions from the county before considering any “additional conversations” about potentially relocating their practices.

Given their record-shattering start to this pandemic-interrupted season, the Spartans will surely explore any and all options to keep chugging.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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