CINCINNATI — The University of Alabama football team is returning to its 2020 COVID-19 protocols ahead of its College Football Playoff semifinal against the University of Cincinnati.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said during his press conference on Monday that the change in protocols was due to the nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases.
"I'm always concerned when there's an issue out there," Saban said in a Monday press conference. "We want to do the best we can to help our players."
Saban said over 90-percent of the team is vaccinated and received booster shots. The team is back to wearing masks in its facilities and also social distancing during meetings.
The Bearcats, in a statement to WCPO.com, said the football team is continuing to follow the latest protocols and information from medical authorities.
"The (UC athletic department) continues to follow the recommendations and guidance set by our medical staff as well as policies set by the (Centers for Disease Control), local health department and the UC campus for COVID-19 prevention," the athletic department said in a statement. "We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will adjust our protocols as needed."
Hospitals in Cleveland and Columbus have started canceling elective procedures as omicron has become the dominant COVID-19 variant. Just a week after the first omicron cases were identified in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, the Associated Press reported that federal officials believed omicron was responsible for 73 percent of new COVID-19 infections last week. Numbers from the CDC showed a six-fold increase in the proportion of infections over the same week.
Daily cases of COVID-19 infection have risen throughout the month of December.
The national spike in cases has severely affected the professional sports leagues.
The NFL postponed three of its games to Monday and Tuesday this week to give teams more time to get players off the leagues' COVID-19/reserve list. The NBA postponed five games while the NHL has paused league play until Dec. 27.
Cincinnati will play Alabama at 3:30 p.m. in the CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Friday, Dec. 31.
WCPO will air a special on UC's trip to the College Football Playoff at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30. WCPO will also have special coverage following the game on Friday following the game on-air, online or on the WCPO Roku app.
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