While the question of which Ohio State players will opt out of this week’s Rose Bowl has now been answered, the question of who else could be unavailable for the Buckeyes is one that will linger until gameday.
Amid a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, the threat that either team could suffer a coronavirus outbreak before Saturday’s game is one that remains very real. Six teams have already been forced to withdraw from other bowl games within the past week due to COVID-19 outbreaks within their programs, while other teams have had to or will have to play shorthanded due to players testing positive. Most Ohio State players traveled back to their hometowns to spend Christmas with their families before heading to the Rose Bowl, potentially increasing the possibility of COVID-19 spreading to the team.
As of Monday afternoon, however, Ryan Day said Ohio State had not had any “key contributors” test positive.
“A couple one-offs, but not bad,” Day said Monday when asked if any players had tested positive for COVID-19. “There’s been a couple cases here and there, but for the most part, those have been isolated.”
As has been the case all season, Ohio State players who are vaccinated – which Day said nearly everyone on the team is – are only being tested for COVID-19 if they show symptoms. That said, Day said the Buckeyes are “really tightening up and trying to do everything we can to keep our guys safe” as they attempt to make it through the final week of the season without being impacted by the virus in a major way.
“I think we’ve done a very good job of being smart in these areas and protecting ourselves,” Day said. “Obviously masked up indoors and doing those type of things and following the protocols that we had to this point. Just about all of our team is vaccinated right now and so we’re healthy and we’re gonna be smart and obviously we know what’s going on right now with the spike going on across the country and so we’ve talked to our team and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re healthy.”
Day said Ohio State has encouraged players to get COVID-19 booster shots, but did not specify how many of his players have actually gotten them.
When asked why people should be confident that the Rose Bowl will be played, Day said he would “leave that up to the experts in that area.” But he is confident the Buckeyes are doing what they need to do to give themselves the best possible chance of avoiding an outbreak and staying healthy for Saturday’s game.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked this year,” Day said. “High, high majority of our team is vaccinated. We’ve talked at length about what this new spike has been like and all the different precautions we need to take. Certainly when we were at home over the break, we talked about it at length. And now being in Southern California, the exposure of getting here, we have to be really smart with it. So talked about all those things. Our guys I think are on it right now. We just try to stay as vigilant as we can.”