After an auspicious start to the regular NFL season played during the pandemic, the league received news of the first spread of the Coronavirus after its third-week matches.
The Tennessee Titans halted all personal activities on Tuesday after three players and five team members tested positive for the virus, the first such outbreak to hit the team since training camps began in late July. The Minnesota Vikings, which hosted the Sunday Titans, also shut down personal activities.
“Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and NFL, including our infectious disease experts, to assess close contacts, conduct additional testing and monitor developments,” the association said in a joint statement with the Players’ Union. “All decisions will be made with health and safety as a primary consideration for us. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.”
Titans did not disclose the names of players and individuals who had tested positive for the virus, although coach Mike Frabel said after Sunday’s match that outside back coach Shane Bowen had not traveled with the team to Minnesota due to the Covid-19 protocol, which calls for marginalization. Employees who have either tested positive or been exposed to someone with it.
The Titans outbreak reflects how a flurry of positive tests could threaten season validity, as has happened in other professional leagues, although the NFL has not said whether the fourth week matches are for affected teams – Tennessee hosts Pittsburgh, while Minnesota plays in Houston – Work will be done as scheduled. This decision will be reached by Commissioner Roger Goodell in consultation with an eight-member group that includes coaches, CEOs and former players of various collective affiliations that have been created to prevent members of the League’s Competition Committee from making decisions of special interest regarding the teams they may have. To cancel or postpone the games.
With the Titans and Vikings schedules flipping, NFL now faces the same issues that plagued Major League Baseball, another professional sports league that hasn’t built a so-called bubble environment for its teams to go through their regular season.
During a turbulent off-season, with high rates of transmission, closing team facilities and renewing training camp protocols, the NFL pledged that the pandemic would not prevent the season from starting on time, on September 10 – and it did.
The NFL had low positive rates during training camp in early August, when daily tests confirmed teams obey the protocols. Even when the league and its players’ union agreed to continue testing players every day, except for match days, the real challenge for the league came in maintaining the same level of vigilance once the season started, when the teams began traveling and potential. Exposure increased.
The first three weeks of the season unfolded largely without incident, as only one player, Falcons corner player AG Terrell, missed Sunday’s game against Chicago, after being placed on the Reserve / Covid-19 list. In the league’s last round of testing, which ran from September 13-19, only five positive cases emerged – none among players – from nearly 37,000 tests conducted on 7,845 players and team members.
To reduce prevalence, the NFL has ordered all coaches and side staff to wear masks, gaiters or face shields during matches and that players are “strongly encouraged” to do so unless they are replaced frequently. The league has cracked down on non-conformist coaches, such as Vic Fangio of Denver and Pete Carroll of Seattle, by fining them $ 100,000 and their teams $ 250,000.
According to league protocols, anyone who has tested positive but is not showing any symptoms can join their team 10 days after the first test or after receiving two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart, and after approval by the team’s doctors. Players and employees who show symptoms can only return 10 days after symptoms appeared and at least 24 hours have passed since the individual developed a fever without taking fever-reducing medication and obtaining clearance from team doctors.