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Goodell Memo: NFL COVID-19 Positives ‘Not Unexpected,’ Diligence Needed

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The Steelers’ Week 4 game at the Tennessee Titans finds itself in jeopardy on Tuesday after eight members of the Titans tested positive for COVID-19 following their win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Those eight positive tests have resulted in 48 additional individuals requiring additional testing before they can return to work, according to ESPN, and the shut down of the Titans’ facility until at least Saturday.

The Titans may be forced to deal with limited or no team practice time in between Tuesday’s announcement and Sunday’s game, which has prompted the NFL to consider moving it to Monday night.

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In the meantime, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all teams on Tuesday. The memo, acquired by Steelers Now, acknowledges that the league expected that there would be some positive tests as they attempted to play the 2020 season, but that further diligence will be required in order to keep the Titans’ outbreak from impacting entire league.

Earlier today, we learned that three players and five non-player staff at the Tennessee Titans had tested positive for Covid-19. We immediately shared that information with the clubs and the NFLPA and have issued the attached press release.

This is not unexpected; as Dr. Sills and others have emphasized, there will be players and staff who will test positive during the season. In response to these positive tests, we immediately took the following steps under the protocols agreed to with the NFLPA:

• Players and staff who have tested positive will be isolated, carefully monitored, and given all necessary medical care. Per our protocols, family members of these players and staff will also be offered testing as well.

• We have reviewed contact tracing data to identify any close contacts of the players and staff who tested positive; have isolated those individuals; and each will receive additional testing.

• We have contacted the game officials and others who worked at Sunday’s game in Minnesota and will do follow-up testing and monitoring for those individuals.

• We will suspend in-person activities in both Tennessee and Minnesota (the team Tennessee played last weekend) pending further developments. Thus far, there have been no positive tests or reports of symptoms among Minnesota players or staff.

• We are exploring in more detail the nature of the close contacts to determine where they occurred (locker room, flights, etc.), and identify any additional learnings that can be shared with all clubs.

These results confirm the need to remain diligent in implementing all of our health and safety protocols to the fullest extent. This includes not only our testing program, but facility maintenance, wearing of PPE by players and staff, and carefully regulating behavior and contacts outside of the club facility. It is also critical to remind everyone in your organization — players and non-players — immediately to report any symptoms that they have, or that family members or others with whom they arc in close contact have, to your club physician or Infection Control Officer.

In addition, clubs should revisit the steps they have taken to minimize the number of close contacts, particularly while traveling and within position groups, and should review their procedures for bringing in new players for tryouts and possible signing.

Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy. What each of us does affects not only ourselves and our immediate families, but many others on our own club and on other clubs.

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