Under normal circumstances, Saturday would have been a travel day for the New England Patriots. Quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for Covid-19 late on Friday night has changed the plans, however, and led to a chaotic few hours for the team: the trip to Kansas City was canceled as the Patriots and the league were trying to assess the situation in order to ensure the safety of the organization’s other members and its opponent, the Chiefs.
One part of this process was additional testing, and New England received some positive news: as first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, all the tests done on Saturday returned negative. That being said, the situation as a whole remains very much fluid.
The Patriots’ facilities at Gillette Stadium will reportedly remain closed through Sunday, while the team’s players and staff will be closely watched in the upcoming hours. This monitoring will also decide the fate of the game in Kansas City: the NFL postponed the contest to either Monday or Tuesday, with players being informed in a virtual meeting late on Saturday that the plan is for the game to take place on Monday if the circumstances allow it.
Of course, there is no guarantee that moving the game back one day actually ensured a safe contest (regardless of the fact that the league’s stipulations prohibit teams from traveling and playing on the same day).
The Tennessee Titans have shown that the virus can continue to spread even if all precautionary measures are taken in a timely manner: the team had its first positive test on September 24, with a second positive result coming in two days later. The team then played the Minnesota Vikings on September 27, with an additional eight people being tested as positive on September 29. As of today, 10 days after the initial diagnosis, nine players and nine staff members have tested positive.
Given that the Chiefs have also had one positive test on Saturday — practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who coincidentally played the role of Cam Newton in practice — they will also be under the microscope today and tomorrow. Negative tests are a positive development for the time being, but as all of this shows they are not necessarily reflective of a safe traveling and working environment for both clubs.