NFL monitoring Falcons’ situation, hoping game is a go

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The Falcons placed defensive tackle Marlon Davidson on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. They had a non-player test positive a day later.

The team was placed into intensive protocol after Davidson’s Monday test yielded a positive result Tuesday. Ten clubs have gone into enhanced protocol this season, requiring additional risk-mitigation measures, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer said in a conference call.

As of now, the Falcons game against the Vikings remains a go.

“[We have had] new positive tests in Atlanta with the team,” Sills said Thursday. “We did have a player test positive there from Monday’s test, and we found out on Tuesday. Obviously, we did what we always do, which is to go into contact tracing and identification of any high-risk individuals and removing them as well as the infected player. Out of an abundance of caution, we began our intensive protocol in both Atlanta and Carolina. Carolina obviously played against Atlanta on Sunday, and so, again, with a player testing positive for Monday’s test, we always have to assume there could have been a potential exposure on the field. So we put Carolina in that intensive protocol as well to be on the safe side.

“There was a new individual who tested positive in Atlanta today. I think again, we’ve had [the Falcons] in the intensive protocol this week, specifically knowing other cases could arise since we did have that infection case. . . . After consultation with the team, they decided to make all their activities virtual today. We’ll obviously continue to monitor that situation very carefully and stay in contact with them as well as in Carolina.”

Sills also said not every case is the same, which is why not every positive is going to result in a rescheduled game.

“Some of you have asked about last weekend where we had one positive test in New England and we had one positive in Tennessee, and we had two very different outcomes,” Sills said. “In one case, we kept from club activities. In the other case, we moved forward with the intensive protocol. I think that reflects the fact that every one of these cases is different. We have to judge the merits of what’s going on based on the totality of the information we have, which is test results, tracking data, historical data, symptom reporting, our contact tracing interviews, often video review inside the club. What we’re really trying to determine is what we think the risk of on-going transmission is? Do we have a handle on the situation of when we think transmission occurred and where are we in that potential curve of exposure for the club? So obviously if there’s a situation where we think there could be on-going transmission or other individuals who might yet be added to be identified, in those situations we’re going to tend to err on the side of keeping that club either out of the facility together or keeping them certainly in the intensive [protocols]. On the other hand, if we think that there’s not on-going transmission, and we’ve identified where those connection points are, then we can proceed forward as we did with Tennessee.”