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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
The NFL this morning announced that Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans game has been postponed, because of a small but growing COVID-19 outbreak on the Titans.
It is the first NFL regular-season game to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus, four weeks into the 17-week schedule.
This, after one additional Titans player and one additional Titans team-personnel member tested positive today for the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, three Titans players plus five Titans club team personnel (meaning a coach, doctor, trainer, equipment worker or front-office type) tested positive.
Three days earlier, one Titans assistant coach — outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen — tested positive and missed the team’s trip to Minnesota, where on Sunday the Titans defeated the host Vikings 31-30.
In all, then, that’s four Titans players and seven team personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the weekend. Each NFL team carries 53 players on its active squad in-season, and up to 16 this year on a practice squad.
On Tuesday the NFL and NFL Players Association — whose respective medical leaders jointly make all important league decisions touching on player health — ordered both the Titans and Vikings to shut down their respective team facilities, and suspend all in-person team activities.
As of this morning, the Vikings were still scheduled to play at the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon. Tuesday’s NFL/NFLPA edict that had banned any gatherings — including practices — by the Vikings has been lifted, the NFL said.
Neither the NFL nor the Vikings has announced that a single Minnesota player or team personnel has tested positive for COVID-19 since the weekend. Studies, however, suggest the incubation period for COVID-19 can vary from five to 14 days — which suggests more Titans players and team personnel, and Vikings players and team personnel, could conceivably yet test positive over the next 10 days or so.
The league did not say when the Titans game might be rescheduled.
“An announcement of the new game date will be made shortly,” the NFL’s statement said. “The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game-day personnel. The Titans facility will remain closed and the team and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
One simple schedule fix widely discussed on social media would have the Steelers play the Titans in Week 7 (Sunday, Oct. 25), when Pittsburgh is scheduled to play at the Baltimore Ravens — and then bump Steelers-Ravens to the following Sunday (Nov. 1) when both clubs are currently scheduled to have a bye.
The Los Angeles Times said another option discussed by the league would be to play postponed games on the weekend (Jan. 9-10) following conclusion of the regular season, then in turn bump the three weekends of conference playoff games forward, each by a week. A problem with that scenario would be that if the game proves meaningless from a playoff standpoint, who including players would care to see it played in such addendum fashion?
Unlike NHL, NBA and Major League Soccer teams, NFL teams are not operating 24/7 within a single, league-wide ‘bubbled’ environment. Rather, each of the league’s 32 clubs has set up its own workplace bubble, and strictly limited the number of club employees permitted to enter that bubble. All with such permission come and go on a daily basis, sleeping at home.
Under these and other safety protocols, only a handful of players and team personnel — which in the summer numbered close to 10,000 individuals — tested positive for COVID-19 from the second week of August until the past week.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020