On Saturday, an undisclosed number of NFL clubs had players receive a positive COVID-19 test. With a large influx of positives all recorded on the same day, the NFL has begun investigation as all the positive results came from the same testing location. The NFL explained in a statement released Sunday morning by NFL public relations spokesman Brian McCarthy.
While the NFL expects to still have positive cases when testing for COVID-19, seeing such a large influx in the same day from every team whose tests were processed at the same site gives a reason to question the results. Regardless, teams who are affected by these tests have altered their plans for Sunday according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The NFL has conducted well over 100,000 COVID-19 tests since camp began with a positivity rate that's a fraction of 1% and dropping. A sudden flood of positives from different testing sites, all processed by the same lab, raises a red flag. https://t.co/UOuBGzL4LR— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 23, 2020
Exactly which teams are affected by results from this test site will come to light throughout the day. It is believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams based on remarks by head coach Mike Tomlin following Saturday evening’s practice.
“We had a number of guys that we held out of work or missed work today because they’re caught up in Covid proceedings or procedures,” Tomlin stated. “No one to mention at this time in terms of being on the Covid list, but they are in the procedure and we want to exercise all precaution like we normally do and make sure that we adhere to it to the fullest. I’ll have a further update, I’m sure, on the status of those guys next time we come back.”
Although it is believe they are dealing with something causing a number of false positives, it’s the precaution taken by each team which could be the most important when it comes to the 2020 season. As stated by ESPN’s Dan Graziano, it is the reaction to positive tests throughout the league which will ultimately shape the NFL’s ability to conduct the regular season.
A reminder today that, for the NFL, it’s not going to be about avoiding positive tests or even cases, but about how the league and teams’ reactions to those inevitabilities works to ensure limitation of potential spread. Complex process. https://t.co/nXSWqNxlYd— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 23, 2020
After their Saturday evening practice, the Steelers have an off day on Sunday. If the team had planned practice, there is a good chance it would have been postponed while the NFL investigates the possible Covid outbreak for a number of clubs. But based on the data, one would assume these numbers do not follow the leagues typical results, especially since they include multiple franchises yet only one testing facility.
Until these questions are answered, which will most likely mean conducting additional tests from players who were reported as positive, the NFL is working as if these positive results are what they are until their investigation determines otherwise.
UPDATE: Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert released a statement on the issue with the Steelers. There were six players from Pittsburgh who were affected by the COVID-19 situation on Saturday and were held out of practice. None of the players will be going on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and will return to practice Monday.