One NFL team has just faced the first possibility of a minor COVID-19 outbreak, and they took extra precautions on Thursday to save the health of their players and staff. According to ESPN, the Buffalo Bills sent their rookies home from the team's facility on Thursday after five positive coronavirus tests were registered this week. Two players, including one rookie, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday -- which caused the Bills to make the decision to conduct the day's meetings virtually. The news was first reported by NFL Network.
"As we were informed by medical experts as training camp opened, we expected to have positive tests for COVID," the Bills said in a statement to ESPN. "With five since the beginning of the testing period last Tuesday, we decided to take a disciplined, proactive and preventative approach to hopefully eliminate additional cases within our team."
Players began reporting to team facilities last Thursday, and they must record three negative COVID-19 tests before they are allowed to begin physicals and get their hands on team equipment. On Tuesday, the NFLPA announced that there have been 21 positive tests in the testing conducted as part of the training camp reporting process. Rookies, injured players and quarterbacks were allowed to start reporting last week while veterans from most teams began reporting to camp on Tuesday.
Teams are not required by the NFL to shut down their facilities for a positive test, but the Bills chose to minimize risk by sending players home for the day after multiple positive tests. According to Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic, the sense, for now, is that this is precautionary.
Rookie cornerback Ike Brown was the first Bills player to be placed on the new reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, and he was followed by defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and wide receiver Duke Williams on Wednesday. The new reserve list category was created for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. If a player falls into either of these categories, his club is required to immediately place the player on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Clubs may not disclose whether a player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.
The Bills' cautiousness could be a result of what occurred in the MLB earlier this week. Their 2020 season is about a week old and the Miami Marlins have already experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that has caused multiple games to be postponed and cast a shadow of doubt over the future of the season. The NFL certainly does not want to deal with a situation like the MLB's before all players have reported to training camp.