NFL teams interrupt practice schedules after positive coronavirus tests from New Jersey lab

“Saturday’s daily COVID testing returned several [positive] tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey,”...

“Saturday’s daily COVID testing returned several [positive] tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey,” the NFL said in a written statement. “We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests. Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate. The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results.”

Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said in a video conference with reporters that he believed 10 or 11 teams were affected. NFL players, coaches and certain team staff members are being tested daily through at least Sept. 5, under the testing program implemented by the league and the NFL Players Association. The league’s testing is handled by a single company, BioReference Laboratories. Individual teams have their tests handled by various BioReference facilities on a geographic basis, according to a league official.

NFL teams are in their training camps, with teams operating in their home cities and at their own training facilities. The league previously had announced testing results with low rates of positive tests. The NFL announced Aug. 12 that it had conducted 109,075 tests through the previous day, with a positive-test rate of 0.46 percent for all personnel and 0.81 percent for players.

Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday that the league continued to see, at that point, a “really low rate of positives” in its daily coronavirus testing of players, coaches and staffers.

That changed with Saturday’s testing results. The Bears moved their practice scheduled for 9:20 a.m. Central time to 1:30 p.m.

“This morning we learned yesterday’s Covid-19 testing identified nine players/staff as positive,” the Bears said in a written statement. “We followed additional NFL-NFLPA testing protocol and confirmed all nine results as false positives. Out of an abundance of caution, we postponed this morning’s practice to this afternoon at 1:30 p.m.”

The Browns said they would put all in-person activities on hold and conduct meetings remotely Sunday.

“After consistently receiving encouraging results from daily testing since returning to the facility in July, the Cleveland Browns’ COVID-19 testing process conducted yesterday initially indicates multiple individual presumptive positive cases that include players, coaches and support staff,” the Browns said in a written statement. “Although, we have received indication from the NFL that they are investigating irregularities in lab results that have also impacted other clubs, out of an abundance of caution, we will immediately follow our comprehensive Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan and pause any activity in our building today and conduct meetings virtually.

“As per plan procedure, the team is also diligently reviewing proximity data for contact tracing and instructed self-isolation for those who tested positive and others as appropriate even though they all remain asymptomatic. Our facility is currently undergoing a thorough deep-cleaning and disinfecting process and is closed to all personnel for the day. We will provide updates as testing results are confirmed and more information is available.”

The Bills opted to hold practice with some players missing, according to Beane.

“We’re gonna be missing a few guys at practice today,” Beane said. “I know the league put out a statement that there was some issues at one of the labs. I think there’s 10 or 11 teams. We’re one of those. So that’s why we initially [are] trying to get things figured out. We backed practice up an hour. We’ve gone through a lot of extra point-of-care testing that we’re able to do here, just to help get some of the people back in the building that were in close contact. But we’ll still be missing some players out there today.”

The Bills considered canceling practice but then decided to proceed, Beane said.

“We’re just trying to be very cautious,” he said. “We’ve been open with our team. The league jumped on this early to let us know that it wasn’t just our team. It’s a lot of teams. I think some went ahead and canceled the day. We did talk about that at one point. But as we got more information, we felt like it was more of a lab issue and not a true issue with our guys currently.”

Jets Coach Adam Gase told reporters that his team had 10 false-positive testing results and canceled a walk-through practice Saturday night. The Steelers said they also were impacted. “On Saturday, we had six players absent from practice due to our adherence to NFL COVID-19 protocol,” Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said in a written statement. “None of those players were required to be placed on Reserve/COVID-19 and will be returning to meetings today and practice on Monday.”

Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer said in a video conference with reporters that his team had a dozen positive tests by eight players, one coach and three staff members.

“We’re just following protocol and doing what the league gives us the guidance with, at this point,” Zimmer said.

The NFL season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 with teams playing in their home cities and in their own stadiums.

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Newsrust: NFL teams interrupt practice schedules after positive coronavirus tests from New Jersey lab
NFL teams interrupt practice schedules after positive coronavirus tests from New Jersey lab
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