The Patriots possibly have avoided an outbreak. Possibly.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Sunday testing of Patriots players has resulted in no positive samples. Saturday testing likewise consisted exclusively of negatives.
But the Patriots aren’t out of the woods. The incubation period continues to be the gaping donut hole in the NFL’s protocols, and it’s possible that the positives will emerge on Monday or Tuesday or even Wednesday.
That’s the inevitable risk of playing a game once the league is on notice of a potential outbreak. Even with accurate and reliable point-of-care testing conducted in, essentially, an airlock before people enter the facility, there’s a chance that the incubation period will expire during the time the person is in the building, with shedding of the virus commencing before the next time a test is administered.
So if the Patriots players and staff continue to test negative and the Patriots-Chiefs game proceeds on Monday or Tuesday, there’s still a chance that one of more Patriots players will shed virus during the game, spreading it to teammates and/or opponents and/or anyone else with whom they come into contact.
The risk is enhanced by the fact that quarterback Cam Newton tested positive. Consider these comments made by coach Bill Belichick on Friday: “Cam does a great job of connecting with everybody, whether it’s his teammates, his receivers, guys on defense, other people in the organization. . . . He’s here a lot, he’s in the building and he’s visible, he’s in sight and is connecting with people as much as any player. He’s in the building more than any player on the team, but he spends a lot of time talking and connecting and building relationships with those people.”
In other words, Newton is around the building a lot, and he’s around everyone. That’s what makes it important to realize that, even if others aren’t testing positive now, they could test positive later.
The best evidence of this? The Titans have been locked out of their facility since Monday. And Titans players are still testing positive.