If only the pandemic truly had disappeared after the election.
The nationwide COVID-19 outbreak continues, with six-figure cases and single-day records over each of the past two days. And the NFL is feeling the impact of it.
Currently, 15 teams have issues with the virus, in one form or another. In no particular order, they are the Ravens, Texans, Colts, Broncos, Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, Bears, 49ers, Cardinals, Eagles, Raiders, Lions, Falcons, and Dolphins.
That’s nearly half the league, presently struggling with some issue or another related to the pandemic.
“As we’ve repeatedly said, as long as the pandemic is endemic in our society there will be positive cases, particularly as we see spikes in our communities,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email earlier this morning. “Our protocols anticipate that, and are designed to identify it early, isolate the individual and stop the virus from spreading within a team. The protocols have worked and it’s a testament to the hard work of thousands of individuals. We knew it was going to be difficult. It takes all of us to working every day to continue to meet this challenge.”
He’s right on all counts. But it won’t get any easier as the virus continues to spread in the places where NFL teams are located. Unless and until the league implements home-market bubbles, all players, coaches, and essential personnel will leave the facility each day and go to a place where they could contract the virus. Between the incubation period and the lag between test collection and test result, infected players and coaches can enter the building and spread it before anyone even realizes what has happened.
That’s why every coach should be explaining every day to every player and staff member that it should be assumed that everyone in the building has it, because anyone can have it on any given day. Masks, distancing, and all other protocols become critical to avoid an outbreak that can cancel games, wipe out game checks, and otherwise derail a season that somehow has made it through eight full weeks with all games played.