Despite quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for the novel Coronavirus on late Friday, the New England Patriots will still travel to Kansas City on Monday to take on the Chiefs later that same day. The whole trip will take place with Covid-19 hanging over the Patriots, naturally, which has led to some special precautions being taken by the club and the NFL.
While the league has adapted its pregame protocols — from mandatory mask-wearing, to testing even on game day, to non-quarterbacks having to wear gloves during warmups — the Patriots organization is also doing all it can to ensure the safety of its players and personnel: as first reported by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, New England will board two planes for the trip to Missouri.
The idea behind this is to isolate players who have been in close contact with Newton recently. One of the two planes will therefore carry around 20 people, with the other carrying the rest of the team and its staff.
This is not a new approach for the Patriots. The team also used two planes at one point last season during a flu outbreak: in order to keep the flu from spreading, they put 10 rehabbing players on a separate plane for a trip to play the Houston Texans. The plan worked, with the team almost flu-free one week later.
The plan used for Monday’s flight west obviously has the same goal in mind: helping stop the potential spread of Covid-19. Even after having produced negative tests on both Saturday and Sunday, after all, members of the team could still be positive due to the Coronavirus’ incubation period.
The Tennessee Titans, who are currently having 20 positive cases, had their first positive on September 24 with numbers going up quickly following a team trip to Minnesota. In order to prevent the same from happening in New England, the Patriots have decided to isolate the high-risk group from those who have not had close contact with the team’s starting quarterback over the last week.
The Patriots, by the way, will not be using the state-of-the-art Boeing 767s the Kraft Family bought in 2017: due to an issues related to an operating certificate, the team will have to use two charters — one will leave from Boston’s Logan International Airport, the other from T.F. Green Airport in Providence (the airport usually used by the club).