Fresno State finalizing health plan for return to football

Even though Fresno County's coronavirus case counts are falling, the county has one of the highest infection rates among those with Mountain West teams.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County public health department is finalizing plans to let Fresno State take the football field when the Mountain West kicks off its season next month.

Fresno State football is coming back, a couple months late and with a very different look to the 2020 season.

The university worked with the County Public Health Department Friday to outline protocols to keep the coronavirus from taking the field with them.

"The critical areas we're talking about is the on boarding, how to make sure testing starts right away," said Fresno County assistant public health director David Luchini.

The Mountain West Conference is requiring three tests a week for players and coaches, and Fresno State is adding a lot more safeguards, like creating smaller cohorts, so most of the time players are exposed to just a few teammates instead of the whole team.

"So they're really putting in a lot of stuff that if there is a case it won't spread to a lot of people," Luchini said. "It's going to be just a couple people. And that's what you have to do. You've got to anticipate something may get through and you want to minimize that transmission."

Even though Fresno County's coronavirus case counts are falling, the county has one of the highest infection rates among those with Mountain West teams.

So health officials say the preventative measures are especially important, but the players have to take personal responsibility as well.

"Of course it's going to be a lot of lessons for the student athletes making sure they're doing the right things away from the field," Luchini said. "Making sure they're not congregating outside, staying more with their teammates in school and living together."

And although the university won't allow fans in the stands for the games, the county health officer says he's willing to allow tailgating.

"I think it'll be up to Fresno State really about whether they have the personnel to oversee that kind of an activity and make sure that it's done safely," said Dr. Rais Vohra.

Dr. Vohra says he'd want to see tailgaters in small groups, social distancing, and wearing masks when possible. But since it's outdoors, it's less of a concern.

If everything goes well, full practices could start this weekend and the season could start October 24.
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