Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. The team also canceled their practice on Wednesday.
Here’s what we know about the Patriots’ situation and what’s ahead:
Do any other Patriots have COVID-19?
As of Wednesday afternoon, Newton and Gilmore are the only players we know of that have tested positive for COVID-19.
Practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list on Tuesday. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s tested positive for coronavirus. Teams can place players on the COVID-19 list if they came into close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus or if they have the virus themselves.
Murray didn’t travel with the team to Kansas City for Monday’s game.
The Patriots took two planes to travel to Kansas City, one for players who came in close contact with Newton and one for players who didn’t. Gilmore was one of the estimated 20 players that were on the plane for those who came in close contact with Newton, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reported.
The NFL knew that Gilmore and Newton came into close contact, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, and the two had dinner together last Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. Newton reportedly found out Friday night that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was also on the same plane as Gilmore, according to The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy.
Some Patriots players who haven’t tested positive for COVID-19 are feeling under the weather and would have had to stay home if the team still had practice on Wednesday, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
The incubation period for the coronavirus is between two and 14 days from exposure, according to the CDC.
Will the Patriots still play the Broncos on Sunday?
The NFL still plans for the Patriots to face the Broncos at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, according to KUSA’s Mike Klis.
“It’s on. Will let you know if something changes,” a league official told Klis.
While the reported plan is to play on Sunday, that could change as we saw with the Titans after their outbreak last week. Last Wednesday, the NFL pushed back the Steelers-Titans game from Sunday to either Monday or Tuesday. On Thursday, the league scrapped plans of playing that game on either of those days after a fifth Titans player and a sixth team staffer tested positive for COVID-19.
The upcoming days will more than likely determine if the Patriots and Broncos play on Sunday or at all in Week 5.
The Patriots plan to work remotely on Wednesday and Thursday before holding their first practice of the week on Friday, MMQB’s Albert Breer reported.
What happens if the Patriots can’t play Sunday?
If a similar COVID-19 outbreak occurs in New England as with Tennessee, it’s likely that the Patriots’ matchup with the Broncos will be removed from the Week 5 slate.
If the league wanted to push the matchup to a later date, it will have to do some schedule maneuvering because the Patriots’ bye week is in Week 6 while the Broncos have theirs in Week 8.
Could the Patriots be punished if an outbreak occurs?
The NFL sent a memo to teams Monday that it may punish teams if they break safety protocols. The punishments include the potential loss of draft picks and even forfeiting a game.
“Protocol violations that result in virus spread requiring adjustment to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game,” the memo reads.
“Simply put, compliance is mandatory. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to our protocols and best practices for the duration of the season.”
The Titans are reportedly at risk of forfeiting their game against the Bills this weekend. Two more Titans players reportedly learned of testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the team’s total positive tests to 22 between players and staffers.
Tennessee’s game against Buffalo this weekend is “in serious jeopardy” and may result in a Titans forfeit if they’re found to have been responsible for the outbreak, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
A group of Titans players held a workout when the team was not allowed to enter their facility last week, Paul Kuharsky reported, which is a violation of the league’s protocols.
If Newton’s and Gilmore’s positive tests are the beginning of an outbreak in New England, it could be in a similar position that Tennessee is in now.
The league reportedly reviewed the Patriots’ situation following Newton’s positive test result.
“Investigating is what they’re doing in Tennessee, and Tennessee’s going to pay the price for it,” Schefter said of the Patriots’ situation with the league on Monday. “Tennessee’s in trouble. I haven’t gotten any kind of sense that New England’s in any kind of trouble.”
When can Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore return?
Newton is reportedly asymptomatic as of Monday after testing positive for the virus and Gilmore said he was asymptomatic after his positive test on Wednesday.
Both players posted messages on Twitter to provide an update on their situations on Wednesday.
— The Gilly Lock (@BumpNrunGilm0re) October 7, 2020
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out since hearing about my positive COVID-19 test,” Gilmore wrote. Your messages aren’t unseen and are greatly appreciated. I am currently asymptomatic and will take this as it comes. I don’t know what to expect, but my spirit is high because of God. I’ve followed every protocol, yet it happened to me. Please be sure to take this seriously.”
“The Gilly Lock is going to sit down until the medical professionals let me know it’s best to continue to normal activity. Your well wishes and prayers mean the world to me and my family.”
Newton advised people to wear a mask and socially distance.
WEAR YOUR MASK • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE pic.twitter.com/0IBolQt3rx
— Cameron 1 Newton (@CameronNewton) October 7, 2020
With both players showing no symptoms of COVID-19, they could return 10 days after their initial positive test or once they receive two consecutive negative PCR tests separated by 24 hours, whichever is sooner, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry. This a change to the league’s original plan for when asymptomatic players can return. Before, asymptomatic players could return 10 days after their initial positive test or wait five days and have consecutive negative tests separated by at least 24 hours.
If a player shows symptoms, they cannot return until 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. They will also have to wait at least 72 hours since symptoms last appeared to be removed from the COVID-19 list. In addition, their return would have to be approved by the team’s physician after consultation with ICS and the NFL’s chief medical officer. Local regulations and requirements will also have to be satisfied.
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