The NFL is looking into several new positive coronavirus cases as possibly being a lab issue, just over two weeks before it plans to kick off the 2020 season.
The league announced in a statement Sunday that its testing lab in New Jersey returned several positives from across the league. Clubs are looking to confirm the tests as the NFL works with its testing partner to investigate any irregularities, with the league saying other laboratories used for NFL testing have not returned similar results.
“Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contract tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate,” the NFL said Sunday.
The Chicago Bears said Sunday that nine of its players and staff members were confirmed to be false positives after additional testing was done.
Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said in a press conference Sunday that a number of players would be missing from practice as the team continues to investigate the test results.
"The league jumped on this early to let us know this wasn't just our team, it's a lot of teams," Beane said. "I think some went ahead and cancelled 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."
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a false positive test result earlier this month. His wife, Kelly Stafford, posted to Instagram describing the days after the false positive as “somewhat of a nightmare” as people accused the family of endangering others when they went out, which they only did after numerous negative results were returned.
“Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has COVID before releasing that info to the world,” she wrote. “I’m sharing our experience because I don’t want it happening to any other family that plays for this league."
Teams have begun practicing among themselves with no preseason games as the football league prepares for a tentative September 10 start to the season. A number of NFL players have chosen to opt-out of the new season amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
Sports leagues have had varying results in attempting to contain possible virus outbreaks as they begin to start again.
The MLB has had several positive test results among its teams while the NBA has been widely praised for its strict isolation restrictions for players. NBA players were put into a “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, ahead of its July 30 restart date.
The basketball season has continued with players in isolation and has yet to have any serious or widespread coronavirus issues.
In contrast, the MLB has had to cancel games as its teams return positive test results. Four MLB training facilities were closed in June before the beginning of the league’s shortened season as outbreaks were revealed through testing.
The Miami Marlins were forced to reschedule several games after over a dozen players and staff members tested positive in July.
The NHL, which restarted its season with a tournament-style Stanley Cup playoff, announced zero positive test results on August 10 as the league resumed. There were numerous positive test results when teams were skating together at their home facilities but players have since isolated in "bubbles" in Toronto and Edmonton, Canada.