Full Version: Cal Football team: 44(and counting?) positives
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The UC Berkeley football team has had 44 people (players and staff) test positive for COVID by Tuesday, Nov. 9.  24 players (and 5 coaches) were unable to attend Saturday's (Nov 6) game against Arizona because of the COVID protocol.   Cal's Nov. 4 statement is that 99% of the players were vaccinated, with 2 people of the 117 in the program (players and staff) not being vaccinated.  (That suggests that 1 player and 1 staff were not vaccinated.  The 2 unvaccinated people were reported to have COVID.)

That's (at least) 38% of the people in the program being tested positive for Covid within the week.  37% of those with vaccines tested positive   Potentially some of the positives have recently had Covid and are now clear, but had not been tested since they had it.

As best I can make out from somewhat unclear reporting, some players and coaches were symptomatic last week.  Because of this, they got tested.  At least some of those were positive.   Then, I think, the rest of the team was tested.  A total of 29 had positive tests as of Saturday.  Further testing (twice weekly) was required as a result of that outbreak, leading to a group of 15 new cases announced Tuesday.

It will be informative to know if any of the 15 new cases played on Saturday and whether any of the Arizona players get tested and whether they develop Covid (symptomatic or not).

Cal's policy is that unvaccinated students & staff have to be tested weekly.  Presumably the two unvaccinated people were tested a week earlier.  (Depending on the test, the false negative rate may be pretty high. Potentially, they got a negative result despite having Covid.)   Therefore  the timing makes it unlikely that the first case of this outbreak was among the unvaccinated.  More likely is that some vaccinated (and, therefore, untested) coach or player was sick a week before and spread it to the others.

Vaccinated people at Cal have to upload a record of the vaccination.  Unvaccinated people have to wear masks in "all public settings".  I would have expected that to include football training & games.

The City of Berkeley Health Officer order (8/2/21) indicates that unless 100% are vaccinated, all must wear masks indoors in gyms and such. (There is an exception for professional sports, but not school sports.)

I am quite surprised and concerned that (at least) 37% of the vaccinated got COVID, even if potentially they were all vaccinated with the J&J vaccine.  

I've Googled but have been unable to find any reference identifying when the players & staff got vaccines and which vaccines they were.  Vaccinations were opened up to 16+ on April 15, a bit under 7 months before the outbreak. 

Perhaps the Cal football team's outbreak contributed to Santa Clara County announcing on Wednesday that all who had the mRNA shots 6 months earlier, or the J&J shot 2 months earlier, could get a booster in the county.

I suppose it is possible that some of these people uploaded fake vaccination cards to the school.  I hope not, as that would probably be considered fraud.  But college students sometimes do stupid things.

I'm sorta surprised this is the first really big outbreak among football teams that I've heard of.  Are we going to see this in basketball?  What were the causes contributing to it at Cal?   Which vaccine, lack of masks & spacing, maybe vocalizing in a group, ... ?   The Health Officer indicated failure to get tested (or even to stay home) when sick.  Is it an atmosphere of disregard for the disease?

I wonder if this major outbreak on the football team will lead to a significant outbreak among other students, and then with Thanksgiving approaching, whether it will spread to family members.  (It probably won't be spread to family members of the football team, as those athletes are going to be well tested.)

I wonder if this will lead to (renewed) mandated regular testing of athletes in close-contact sports.

I expect many student-athletes around the country will be getting boosters in the next week or two.  I hope many adults do too.

Sports note: If Cal is found to be primarily at fault for being unable to play a contest, they will forfeit the contest.  This situation may contribute to how Cal football claims that they were following the rules.
Please correct me where I am wrong in my beliefs/assumptions. I believe it to be true that vaccinated persons can transmit nearly as effectively as unvaccinated persons, essentially regardless of symptoms. I also believe that once exposed vaccinated persons can test positive at nearly the rate of unvaccinated, once again even if no or mild symptoms. I know in my industry an event last week turned into a super-spreader--and one of my vaccinated employees ended up with pneumonia. I also have 2 neighbors who attended a wedding last friday and now have mild symptoms (both vaccinated). Just seems like without high caution maintained in terms of masking etc. and also testing these events end up being almost probable over a long period of time.
You will find conflicting statements

I believe the best information is in the graphs in this paper, combined with thinking about behavior of individuals and of restrictions that are or are not observed.
The virus levels in the infected person are just as high in day 1 to 4 of the illness whether they are vaccinated or not.  The virus levels then fall off in the vaccinated person.

Now, who spreads it more, that's hard to say. 
  • The vaccinated person isn't likely to have high levels over the longer run.  
  • The vaccinated person is less likely to spread it by coughing, but then is less likely to recognize they are sick and so won't isolate.  
  • The vaccinated person is less likely to wear masks or avoid crowds or to avoid shouting or singing or other ways it might spread.
As I believe happened at Cal, vaccinated people will more likely ignore symptoms or blame them on an allergy or whatever.