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Falcons move to virtual work Thursday after confirmed COVID-19 case for assistant coach

Atlanta’s game against Minnesota is still on for Sunday for the moment. We’ll see what comes next, but initial reports appear to have been erroneous.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Per reporter Mike Garafolo, the single confirmed positive belongs to a staffer, not a player. Per Tom Pelissero, it’s an assistant coach.

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.

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.

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:

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.