Dr. Zachary Binney, epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, does not believe that the UFC coronavirus protocols were properly executed before Saturday’s event in Jacksonville.
Less than 24 hours before the event, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and two members of his camp tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the cancellation of the middleweight contenders’ fight with Uriah Hall.
Souza trains in Orlando and went to Jacksonville on Wednesday. He informed the UFC upon arrival that a family member could have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN. The 40-year-old then isolated himself “whenever possible,” the UFC said in a statement, but appeared at the official weigh-in Friday morning before the return of his test results.
Binney said the way things were going was problematic, adding that Souza shouldn’t have gone to Jacksonville in the first place if he knew there was a possible positive test in his family.
UFC President Dana White said Souza’s positive test showed that the promotion’s COVID-19 protocols were effective, according to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. However, Binney does not agree with this.
Binney said he hopes that Souza, the two infected cornermen and all the people with whom they have been in contact in Jacksonville will quarantine themselves for two weeks to stop their particular chain of transmission.
Souza was the only athlete scheduled for UFC 249 to test positive for COVID-19. The fighters were tested for the virus twice last week – just upon arrival at the hotel (Wednesday for many fighters), and again after the Friday weigh-ins.
The UFC sent an email to fighters on Sunday for the May 13 and 16 cards, which will also take place in Jacksonville, asking if they have symptoms of coronavirus and have been exposed to someone who could have been infected, sources said Ariel Helwani of ESPN.