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Tennessee Titans Players And Staff Test Positive For The Coronavirus

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

Three weeks into its season, the National Football League is dealing with its first team outbreak of COVID-19. The NFL announced Tuesday that three Tennessee Titans players and five of the team's personnel members have tested positive for coronavirus. And this news could affect several other teams, as NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: The Tennessee Titans have shut down in-person club activities following the spike in positive cases. The Titans played in Minnesota Sunday, where they beat the Vikings. The NFL announced the Vikings also stopped their in-person club activities. Tennessee played the game in Minneapolis without one of the team's assistant coaches. He didn't make the trip after he got a positive test result the day before the game.

At this point, it's not certain what, if any, impact the Titans outbreak will have on next weekend's games. Tennessee is scheduled to host Pittsburgh. The Steelers say they're continuing to prepare until they're informed otherwise. The Vikings are scheduled to play at Houston.

Concerns about next weekend and beyond are an indication of how the virus potentially could wreak havoc with the NFL. Football is a sport where the threat of transmission is extreme considering all the physical contact and collisions. In an interview before the Titans outbreak, NFL Players Association Medical Director Thom Mayer talked about possible contingency plans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THOM MAYER: Certainly lengthening the season, moving to alternative sites, if necessary, moving to an every-other-weekend (ph) if there were multiple outbreaks in multiple cities - we posed all those questions to the NFL, and we'll continue to work through them.

GOLDMAN: So far, none of that's been necessary. The NFL isn't in a protective bubble like other sports leagues. Teams are playing in their home cities and traveling. But for the most part, the NFL has been successful in mitigating COVID risk. Last week, the most recent test results showed zero positives among players. But that was last week.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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