All over the country, local governments have started to loosen social distancing restrictions that were originally imposed earlier this year in light of the Coronavirus pandemic arriving in the United States. However, Covid-19 is still far from under control — quite the opposite is the case in some places actually: 22 states have seen an increase in cases of more than 10 percent over the last week, according to the Washington Post, with Arizona (+43%), Florida (+27%) and Texas (+25%) among those being hit hardest.
All three of them are of course home to professional football teams, and the Coronavirus has firmly entrenched itself into the NFL: not only has the league adapted its offseason procedures going all the way back to late March, it also has seen a surge in cases recently. Numerous members of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive, with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also recently reporting cases.
All in all, almost one third of the league’s 32 teams has seen one of its players contract the virus. As a result of those recent developments and the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the states named above, the NFL Players Association has recently advised its members against organizing private workouts. NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Meyer released the following statement over the weekend:
Please be advised that it is our consensus medical opinion that in light of the increase in Covid-19 cases in certain states that no players should be engaged in private workouts. Our goal is to have all players and your families as healthy as possible in the coming months.
We are working on the best mitigation procedures at team facilities for both training camps and the upcoming season, and believe that it is in the best interest of all players that we advise against any voluntary joint practices before training camp commences.
The statement comes in light of an unnamed 49ers player being tested positive following a privately organized workout with a large group of teammates in Nashville last week. The session was one of many of its kind taking place this offseason, as players have started to take matters in their own hands after the NFL decided to pull the plug on all on-field workouts at team facilities — including organized team activities and mandatory minicamp — over the last three months.
Among those organizing workouts were New England Patriots quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. The two, who are competing for the starting role following the departure of Tom Brady in free agency, were joined by teammates such as Julian Edelman and Damiere Byrd. While Massachusetts has recovered well from Covid-19 when compared to other states, Stidham and company will likely have to wait until the start of training camp to reconvene.
The reporting dates for camp remain in place — July 25 for the Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs; July 28 for the other 30 teams including the Patriots — for the time being, but the situation as a whole is very much a fluid one.