Detroit Lions staff member tests positive for COVID-19: Here’s what we know

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions were placed in the NFL’s intensive protocol for COVID-19 on Friday after they were notified that a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The unidentified staff member, who the Lions said “has not been in our practice facility for the last 48 hours,” is at least the fourth member of the Lions to encounter COVID-19 troubles in the last four days.

The Lions placed Jarrad Davis, Matthew Stafford and Jalen Elliott on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

Stafford did not test positive for the virus, but is considered a close contact of someone who did. Davis was the first Lions player to test positive for COVID-19 since Stafford returned a false positive on Aug. 1.

The cases of Stafford, Davis and Elliott, a practice squad safety, are not related, and the Lions said their abbreviated practice Friday was conducted under the NFL’s intensive protocol rules.

“Our club was notified today that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19,” the team said in a statement. “We are currently operating under the NFL’s Intensive Protocol. The individual immediately self-quarantined and has not been in our practice facility for the last 48 hours. Today’s practice was conducted in compliance with the NFL’s Intensive Protocol, and we will continue to take precautionary measures at our Allen Park practice facility.

“The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff remains our top priority. We will continue to follow the guidance of the NFL, its medical staff and our team doctors as we prepare for Sunday’s game against Minnesota.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the Lions game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings remains on, and the team is planning to travel to Minnesota on Saturday.

Under intensive protocol guidelines, all team meetings must be held virtually or outdoors, with masks being worn and physical distancing maintained at all times.

Practices are allowed, so long as players wear full masks — not gaiters — but locker room use is strongly discouraged and a maximum of 10 players and five staff members are allowed in the weight room at one time

Several Lions players were spotted wearing facemasks at Friday’s practice, and most coaches — including head coach Matt Patricia and all three coordinators — were spotted on the field.

Patricia said players have “done unbelievable” this week as the organization has dealt with its first coronavirus spread of the season.

“Obviously, we have to go out and play football on Sundays, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. “But I would say the daily stuff that these guys overcome and just deal with and handle and work and just are the same every day, it’s very, very impressive to me how they’ve been able to just stay so consistent and focused. I know that it’s really hard. It’s really hard. There’s a lot going on right now. Certainly, people’s families are first and foremost and we want to keep everybody protected and safe. But they’re great at just being able to come in and turn off the mechanism and just dial-in to what we’re doing at that moment. For some guys it’s a good escape from it. Some guys, they just handle it.

Quarterback Chase Daniel, who is expected to remain in a backup role Sunday — Stafford’s five-day quarantine ends Sunday and he can play against the Vikings if he returns negative test results on Saturday and Sunday — praised the steps the Lions have taken to combat COVID-19 this season despite the recent outbreak.

“The one thing that I do really respect about Coach Patricia is like he’s right there in it on all these COVID protocols,” Daniel said. “He’s keeping us safe. This building’s super safe right now. Props to him, and really all the people in the building that, listen guys, this year is so weird, and honestly when I come to work I feel super safe. Like, we’ve gone above and beyond. I wish I could name every single person that had something to do with this, but it just seems like every week there’s a new NFL rule or NFLPA rule and I’m really involved with the PA, but our guys are like three steps ahead of that. And that’s something that our guys really deserve a lot of credit for. It probably won’t get talked about a lot, but we’re definitely ahead of the curve.”

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