The University of Illinois’ Dr. Sheldon Jacobson told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports that he expects a 30-50 percent COVID-19 infection rate for college football players this season — and 3-7 deaths — due to COVID-19.
“A few of them could end up in the hospital, and you’ll have a small number who could die,” Jacobson, a University of Illinois computer science professor, told CBS Sports. “I don’t want to sugar coat it for you. I just want to give you the facts. … If everybody comes together under normal circumstances, we’ll probably see that kind of outcome. … I guarantee someone is going to die. The virus does not discriminate.”
What college football will do when faced with a death remains to be seen. Would it shut down the sport?
“If it’s the starting quarterback for Alabama, that’s going to get a different level of attention than a third-string safety at Illinois,” Jacobson told CBS Sports. “The fact is the problem you’re talking about is much bigger than football. How much risk are you willing to tolerate on your campus to be able to open it up? The research suggests how much risk you’re willing to take will determine what kind of outcomes you’ll have. To think you’ll run away from infections is naïve.”
Jacobson made his projections from CDC data that estimates one death per 1,000 people who have symptoms in the college age group (18-22). Approximately 13,000 student-athletes will play college football this fall.