The NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak has hit.
The Tennessee Titans have shut down their facilities until Saturday after three players and five staff members tested positive for the virus, the league announced.
The Minnesota Vikings, the Titans’ opponent this past Sunday, also shuttered their facility due to contact tracing protocols.
Neither team’s Week 4 game has been postponed yet, but the NFL and NFL Players’ Association are monitoring the situation closely and taking every precaution necessary to avoid any further spread.
“On Tuesday morning, the Titans COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives,” the NFL said in a statement. “The Titans will suspend in-person club activities starting today. Likewise, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities. Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments. All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.”
The Vikings (0-3) are scheduled to visit the Houston Texans (0-3). The Titans (3-0) are supposed to host the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0).
The Steelers told NFL Network that the league had informed them to proceed for Sunday’s game until they are informed otherwise. But CBS Sports reported that all four teams have been informed by the league that their games may be rescheduled.
The Vikings said that as of Tuesday morning, no one on their team had tested positive coming out of Sunday’s 31-30 Titans win. But league contact tracing identified 48 Vikings had close contact with the eight people who tested positive in Tennessee, per ESPN. So precautions are required even in the absence of any positive Minnesota tests.
The Titans and Vikings will operate remotely in the interim. Tennessee already had been without outside linebackers coach and defensive play-caller Shane Bowen for Sunday’s game against Minnesota because of the protocol, per ESPN. Bowen had been placed in protocol after getting test results back on Saturday before the team flew to Minnesota.
The eight people who tested positive with the Titans were all asymptomatic as of Tuesday morning, per ESPN. But that’s all the more reason to be diligent about cleaning the facilities and keeping everyone isolated until more is known.
In college football, Notre Dame football already had to postpone last Saturday’s game at Wake Forest until Dec. 12 due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Initially, Notre Dame announced on Sept. 21 that four players had tested positive the previous week. But that number ballooned to seven the following day and then 25 by Sept. 28, despite contact tracing isolations that happened immediately when the first positives came back.
The NFL’s only minor scare prior to Tuesday’s news came when Atlanta Falcons rookie corner A.J. Terrell tested positive and was placed on the reserve list last Saturday. But Sunday’s Falcons-Bears game was played as scheduled after everyone else in Atlanta checked out.