Georgia football’s sports medicine director Ron Courson has COVID-19

Ron Courson's role in the athletic department puts him in physical contact with virtually every member of the football team.
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Ron Courson's role in the athletic department puts him in physical contact with virtually every member of the football team.

ATHENS -- Georgia has a potentially big problem heading into Saturday’s game against Clemson.

Ron Courson, the Bulldogs’ director of sports medicine, has been diagnosed with COVID-19, a person with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Courson tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The news was shared with the football staff on Wednesday and Courson was not in attendance at Wednesday’s practice.

UGA policy prevents officials from making any comments about an employee’s medical status.

At the least, this means Georgia’s medical chief of staff won’t be in Charlotte for Saturday night’s matchup against No. 3 Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Classic. More concerning, however, is the fact that Courson’s role in the athletic department puts him in physical contact with virtually every member of the football team, especially those who are injured.

As of this week, no Georgia players have been reported to have COVID. However, contact-tracing could be a problem.

Last week, coach Kirby Smart said that more than 90% of his team has been vaccinated. However, as has been increasingly proven of late, vaccinated individuals can still catch the virus, especially the delta variant that is making its rounds in America. Courson himself was vaccinated and has been leading one UGA’s leading proponents for all students, athlete and staff to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the SEC has retooled its policies and procedures in light of the vaccination. Fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine after an exposure to someone infected with the virus. However, unvaccinated athletes and staff are still subject to quarantine requirements. It is, of course, not known what members of Georgia’s team are still not vaccinated.

Courson, who has served as Georgia’s director of sports medicine since 1995, is a member of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance task force. That group has been lauded for helping the SEC navigate its way through the coronavirus pandemic to get in a football season last year. At Georgia, he has been at the forefront of combating the virus and personally established most of the protocols the athletic department has used to safeguard its athletes through the pandemic.

But in that role, Courson is the one person in Georgia’s football complex who has contact up and down the chain. He oversees all of the Bulldogs’ injury rehabilitations and oversees all of the in-house COVID-19 testing.

Positive COVID-19 test results are up significantly on Georgia’s campus. UGA’s “Dawg Check” webpage, which monitors weekly testing activity and results, reported 457 over the last week, ending Sunday. That’s nearly twice as many as the previous week, where there were 231.

*This story first appeared on AJC.com

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