Ben Howland says Mississippi State men's basketball has been fully vaccinated
STARKVILLE — Before the Mississippi State men’s basketball team traveled to the Bahamas for a tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend, coach Ben Howland expressed concern regarding the COVID-19 situation there.
Howland said he was initially “really leery even about going there,” pointing to a Level 4 travel warning last month. “Now it’s a stage three,” Howland said. “It was very dangerous a month ago; now it’s just dangerous.”
But after returning home, Howland was pleased with how the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship was conducted, and he noted how he and the entire team has been vaccinated against COVID-19. Howland also said he received a booster shot and previously had COVID-19.
“It went pretty smoothly,” Howland said Wednesday, ahead of the Bulldogs’ game against Lamar (1-6) on Thursday (7 p.m., SEC Network+). “They did a great job. You went throughout the hotel there, you had to have your mask on, or somebody was telling you to put it on. So they’re trying to keep everybody safe.”
The traveling party was tested before they departed Mississippi and they all presented negative tests upon arrival in Nassau. The Bulldogs received another test while at the tournament, at which they split games against Louisville and Richmond.
Howland, though, fell ill to a different virus while at the tournament.
“I ended up getting a virus that my wife and I had now,” Howland said. “I’m over it now but I had it for about four or five days. I was really not feeling well by Thursday game time. I was feeling awful by Sunday when we got back and Monday. So that’s going around too. They’re telling us, because everybody was so safe distanced a year ago, that some of these other viruses that we get outside of the coronavirus are really affecting people because we didn’t get them for a year.”
So Howland ensured he and the team all received a flu shot, noting how the flu has been hitting parts of the student body at Mississippi State. The 64-year-old coach was “very disappointed” to learn about the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has now been found in California.
That increases the importance of getting vaccinated, said Howland, who has been an advocate for the vaccines during recent media availabilities.
“We’re just all trying to keep safe,” Howland said last week. “You read the numbers, you know, you’re 12 times more likely to be hospitalized if you’re unvaccinated and you get COVID. And if you do have it and you’re unvaccinated, you’re more likely to get somebody else sick. You’re, I think, maybe 10 times more likely to die of it if you’re unvaccinated. Fun facts to know.”