The National Football League has postponed its first game of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
The matchup between Pittsburgh and Tennessee, both 3-0 teams, has been put on hold. The official statement from the NFL reads as follows:
“The Steelers-Titans game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, will be rescheduled to allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel. Details on the new time on either Monday or Tuesday will be announced as soon as possible.”
The NFL released a statement regarding the Titans’ coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday.
“The Titans COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives. The Titans will suspend in-person club activities starting today. Likewise, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities,” the league and NFL Players’ Association stated.
“Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments. All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to team executives in which he outlined the following steps the league has taken according to COVID-19 protocols agreed to by the NFLPA:
- Players and staff who have tested positive will be isolated, monitored and given all necessary medial care.
- Contact tracing data has been reviewed to identify any close contacts of players and staff who have tested positive. Those individuals have been isolated and will receive additional testing.
- Game officials who worked Sunday’s Titans-Vikings game have been contacted for followup testing and monitoring.
- In-person activities for the Titans and Vikings have been suspended pending further developments.
- The league is exploring the nature of the close contacts to determine where they occurred to identify any additional findings that can be shared with all 32 teams.
“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 behaviour and contracts outside of the club facility,” Goodell noted.
“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 are in close contact have, to your club physician or Infection Control Officer.”
It’s the first spread of the virus since the season kicked off in early September. The Steelers are preparing at team headquarters, which could create a competitive disadvantage. Rising Canadian rookie Chase Claypool will have to adapt on the fly.
For the first time since 2017, the NFL has postponed a game. Due to Hurricane Irma, the NFL moved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins Week 1 game to Week 11 that year.