Browns game vs. Steelers ‘not in jeopardy’ of being postponed because no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in – cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns game Sunday vs. the Steelers is in no jeopardy of being postponed because there’s no evidence of COVID-19 transmission inside the Browns facility, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said Wednesday.
The Browns had another player and staff member test positive Wednesday morning, bringing the total of players on the COVID-19 reserve list to 10. But seven of them are high-risk close contacts who have been testing negative, and could be available for the game.
As for Wednesday’s positive tests, the player is a practice squad player, and the staffer is a coach. The Browns facility is closed while they conduct contact tracing.
“To date we don’t see any connection among the recent positive cases with the Browns, so there’s no evidence of transmission within the facility,’’ Sills said. “But obviously we’re going to continue to work through that, continue to monitor the test results on a day-to-day basis. The club’s been incredibly cooperative and they’ve been very proactive and obviously we’re all working very hard around that issue and contact tracing from the latest positive cases from today is ongoing as we speak right now. But as of this moment, no evidence of any transmission within the facility.’’
Dawn Aponte, NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer, said “as of right now we’ll just continue to monitor and gather information as we go through the contact tracing and we will assess and adjust accordingly if need be. But at this moment, we’re planning to play on schedule and we’ll take it from there.’’
Sills said it should come as no surprise that the Browns are having some community-acquired cases because “unfortunately right now the county the Browns play in [Cuyahoga] is in one of the highest incidence rates around the league, so that just means that players, coaches and staff are going to have more exposure in the community and therefore more susceptibility to positive tests.’’
According to figures released Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine, Cuyahoga is 26th among Ohio’s 88 counties in terms of COVID-19 cases.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said he addressed the recent COVID-19 incidences with this player.
“Throughout this season since we got together, there have been constant reminders that we are going to follow the protocols and keep everybody safe,’’ he said. “By and large, the guys have done a very nice job of that, and there are situations that we can learn from.
“We will continue to do that. We will continue to preach to all of our staff and players to make the right choices, and I think guys are doing that and will continue to do that.”
Browns linebacker B.J. Goodson tested positive for the virus Saturday, and five players were identified as high-risk close contacts: receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge, and linebacker Jacob Phillips. NFL Network reported that the contact occurred in the recovery pool area, and that video showed one interaction where one of those players was not properly wearing a mask.
On Tuesday, three more players were added to the reserve list: tight end Harrison Bryant and safeties Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph. Of those three, Bryant and Joseph are high-risk contacts, and Sendejo is possibly a positive because he’s already been ruled out for the Steelers game.
If all goes as planned, the Browns will have their seven close contacts back for the game, with the receivers and Phillips due back in practice on Thursday.
The Browns are also hoping to have left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. back from his illness. He has not tested positive for the virus to this point.
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