INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich tested positive for COVID-19 just before the start of training camp, even though he was fully vaccinated. Reich is the latest of several prominent, but rare breakthrough cases that included hopeful Olympic athletes, Texas state lawmakers, and new Indiana University President Pamela Whitten.
Reich said he is feeling fine, but in quarantine away from the team. He could be cleared to join the team at training camp at Grand Park in Westfield as early as next week.
Indiana reports 2,720 breakthrough cases. That's less than one-tenth of one percent (0.095) of the more than 2.9 million Hoosiers who are fully vaccinated. The state reports just 132 hospitalizations, 0.005 percent, among the fully vaccinated due to COVID.
Health experts say the vaccine still offers protection even if someone contracts the virus.
"The vaccine will prevent you from becoming clinically ill,” said Thomas Duszynski, the director of Epidemiology Education at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. “That's what vaccines do. Or even if you do get some symptoms of disease, which is possible, and sounds like what would happen in a breakthrough case, those symptoms aren't going to be as severe. They're not going to be life-threatening that we've seen in people that are unvaccinated."
Reich getting the shot and still testing positive but being asymptomatic, could indicate the vaccine effectiveness.
"I also think it's important that somebody as famous as a head football coach is putting a positive message on this and saying that, 'Look, I'm fully vaccinated. I still got the disease. I'm feeling well, and I hope to be back on the team'. And I think that's an important sort of follow-up story, is what happens in the next 10 days,” said Duszynski.
Indiana reports 46 deaths (0.002 percent of the fully vaccinated) from breakthrough cases. 91 percent of those people were 65 years or older, with an average age of 79.
"We're not out of this yet,” said Duszynski. “This pandemic is still going on despite reopening everything. We all want to have the economy open. We want our kids back in school. And right now, vaccinations, fully vaccinated, is one of the best pathways to get to those things we want."