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The NFL has its first COVID-19 team outbreak. At least nine members of the Tennessee Titans have produced confirmed positive test results in the past four days, a rash of coronavirus infections that could potentially have spread during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Titans have closed their practice facility until at least Saturday, while the Vikings have closed theirs until they have further test results. Decisions on both teams’ Week 4 games are pending. Here’s what we know at the moment, with appropriate context. We will continue to update as news develops. Jump to:
Timeline for return to facilities
Could games get postponed?So this started with the Titans? Yes. On Saturday, Titans linebackers coach Shane Bowen returned a confirmed positive test. The Titans received the results before they departed Nashville for Minneapolis, and Bowen was held back from making the trip.Were the other eight Titans employees infected by Bowen?We don’t know. What we do know is that the entire Titans traveling party was tested Saturday, as they would ordinarily be. The Titans had those results by Sunday morning. All were negative, meaning every coach, player and staff member was eligible for Sunday’s game.The Titans stayed Saturday night at the JW Marriott, adjacent to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. League protocol requires all members of the traveling party to have their own rooms and also prohibits them from “congregating, visiting or mingling with individuals outside of the Traveling Party once they have arrived in the game city.”On Sunday, they defeated the Vikings 31-30. The team flew home after the game ended. So no one was tested Sunday?Correct. The protocols call for daily testing on every day except game day. Neither the league nor the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has explained explicitly why, but timing is likely a substantial part of the answer. Results for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, performed on the morning of a game by nasal swab, probably wouldn’t be returned in time for kickoff. Point of care (POC) tests have quicker results — PCR tests are usually returned overnight, whereas POC tests can be returned on the same day, and even before kickoff after a morning test — but are not as accurate. At this time, POC tests are only used to help confirm initial positive tests, and the NFL doesn’t yet trust them on their own. And the NFL likely didn’t want to sideline a player or coach based only off a POC test. When were they next tested?All Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees from the Titans and Vikings, which includes players and coaches, were tested Monday morning. Of the eight Titans who returned confirmed positive tests, three were players and five wer


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