The Falcons had placed Marlon Davidson on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, a positive test that sparked concern for the rookie and fresh fears of an outbreak. The number of big moves happening across the organization and the fact that A.J. Terrell contracted the virus earlier this year without it spreading further made it less of a story than it might have been.
This morning, we started our day off with reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that as many as four positive new tests had shown up at Flowery Branch, and the team would be shutting down the facility. That obviously would’ve put the team’s game against the Vikings in jeopardy, but everything we’ve learned since then has been good news, relatively speaking. The Falcons just confirmed one positive case and have decided to suspend in-person activities at Flowery Branch, moving to virtual work, but at this time it does not appear there are any additional confirmed cases. Schefter has been walking back his original report most of the morning.
Out of an abundance of caution following one new positive test, we have made the decision to stop all in-person work at IBM Performance Field Thursday and will conduct all operations virtually.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 15, 2020
Update: An NFL official said just one member of the Falcons’ personnel had a positive test, and its not a player.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2020
Per reporter Mike Garafolo, the single confirmed positive belongs to a staffer, not a player. Per Tom Pelissero, it’s an assistant coach.
The #Falcons have just one team personnel member positive, source says.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 15, 2020
It was a #Falcons assistant coach who was confirmed positive for COVID-19 this morning, per source. The team had the option to return to the facility this afternoon, but decided to operate virtually all day as a precaution. Plan is back tomorrow, barring further issues.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 15, 2020
Our big hope now is that this is the lone case and the staffer with COVID-19 is okay. If all goes well in the next couple of days, chances are good the Falcons will still be able to play the Vikings on Sunday. Right now, there are evidently no plans to move the game.
From @NFLprguy: No change to #Falcons-#Vikings game at this time.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 15, 2020
We do know the Falcons appear to have been taking this very seriously all along, which will hopefully help. They had stepped things up as of Wednesday and had by all accounts been following league guidelines since the beginning, but the stepped-up measures yesterday came after team staff had already contracted the virus, obviously. It’ll be a question of who they came in contact with, and the league is reportedly tracing contacts as we speak.
Along with the PCR and POC testing, the Falcons Wednesday also went to virtual meetings, masks/face shields at all times during practices, gloves on all players during practices, and weight room capacity limits.— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) October 15, 2020
If this does end up being a single case, we may still get a game Sunday, or at least a postponed one. Obviously if it’s multiple cases and there’s a risk of further spread, that’s probably not happening. In the grand scheme of things, a lost or rescheduled game in an 0-5 season is less of a big deal than containing this spread and ensuring everyone’s healthy. We’ll see what happens next.
Schefter’s earlier reports are now below:
Falcons are shutting down their facility after multiple positive tests, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2020
Falcons had four positive tests this morning, according to sources. https://t.co/vsKiYBNUqQ— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2020
Falcons‘ official this morning: “Still working through details, can tell you we’re not at four confirmed.” https://t.co/6oKSiSQToZ— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2020
It’s not clear how Schefter (and others reporting the same thing) got the information that there were four positive tests, and we may not ever find out. As reliable as Schefter’s leaguewide sources often appear to be, he doesn’t bat 1.000, and Falcons Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes has a useful reminder for all of us.
Accuracy > Fast— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) October 15, 2020
Have a great day.