For the third time this season, the Atlanta Falcons had to shut down their facility due to a coronavirus outbreak within the program on Thursday. This time it wasn’t players, however, it was two positive COVID-19 tests from coaching staff members.
The team will have to finish their practices virtually before taking on the Las Vegas Raiders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Contact-tracing protocols have commenced and at this time we have stopped all in-person work at IBM Performance Field with all operations conducted virtually on Thursday,” the team said in a statement.
Falcons COVID-19 History
The Falcons were the first team in the league to have a player test positive for the coronavirus back in October.
After two positive tests, the Falcons ended up with 12 players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with one coach, and had to shut down on October 15th. The Falcons still played their game against the Vikings three days later. After Davidson, Cominsky, and defensive line coach Jess Simpson test positive, the Falcons were placed under stricter protocols.
They then had a shutdown on the Friday before playing Denver on November 8th, but the game against Denver still went on as scheduled. The Falcons aren’t the only ones dealing with containing the virus, almost every team in the league has had a minor outbreak at least once.
Since the start of the season, defensive end Dante Fowler, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, cornerback A.J. Terrell, defensive end Marlon Davidson, defensive end John Cominsky, safety Jamal Carter, fullback Keith Smith, safety Chris Cooper, rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, quarterback Danny Etling, and linebacker Foye Oluokun have all spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Etling is no longer with the team.
Teams in the NFL are technically not allowed to comment on a player’s medical status saying whether a player tested positive or is quarantine.
The Falcons consulted with NFL medical officials. “The health and safety of our team is our highest priority,” the team said via Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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Could Raiders-Falcons Get Postponed?
While there haven’t been reports of the game being postponed, it could be up in the air if the contact tracing leads to more. The league isn’t afraid of last-minute changes as we witnessed on Wednesday afternoon when they moved the Thanksgiving primetime matchup between Baltimore and Pittsburgh to Sunday.
We also saw it happen in college football just last weekend when the game was canceled right after Clemson got off the plane to take on FSU. A player on the flight had a late test result come back positive and the game was called off.
The trend of rising COVID-19 cases around the nation is becoming more and more concerning to the NFL.
“It’s getting more challenging over these next few weeks because the disease is spiking throughout the country,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, recently.
Stay tuned to see how the Falcons and league handle Atlanta’s third outbreak.