The Saints have experienced eight reported cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, including six offensive coaches, one player and one nutritionist, according to ESPN.
The player in question appears to be wide receiver Michael Thomas, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He was already on the physically unable to perform list, so this case won’t impact the Saints for this week’s game.
The Saints have not disclosed any further information on the cases, though affected coaches’ status for Sunday’s game against the Panthers is questionable.
Coach Sean Payton announced the entire coaching staff was vaccinated. The vaccination status of Thomas and the nutritionist is unknown.
That said, NFL players and coaching staff are tested every day regardless of vaccination status. Therefore, if the vaccinated are asymptomatic and test negative twice 24 hours apart, they will be allowed to return to the team. But, if they are unvaccinated, they have to isolate for at least 10 days even if they are asymptomatic. The Saints are now following the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols, which includes mask wearing indoors and daily tests.
This is the first big COVID-19 breakout in the NFL this season, and it came right after Week 1. The NFL announced on Sept. 3 that 93 percent of players were vaccinated. As of now, only two teams are fully vaccinated: the Falcons and the Buccaneers.
This isn’t the first time the Saints have made headlines regarding COVID-19. In March 2020, Payton became the first person associated with the NFL to get COVID-19.
GM Mickey Loomis confirmed that Saints are dealing with some COVID cases and enhanced protocols but didn’t share many specifics. Said Saints have a coach in Sean Payton who does a great job dealing with adversity and “we’ll handle it.” https://t.co/1dzttSGPpM
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) September 15, 2021