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NFL faces its first real Coronavirus challenge of the regular season: Titans and Vikings shut down their facilities

Related: Bill Belichick praises the Patriots’ handling of Covid-19 but notes that ‘we’ve got a long way to go’

Tennessee Titans v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The NFL regular season was off to a positive start when it comes to the league’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, however, the league’s first true challenge has arrived: eight members of the Tennessee Titans organization — three players and an additional five staff members — have tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the team to shut down its facility and suspend in-person activities until Saturday.

The Minnesota Vikings, who faced off against the Titans in Week 3, have also decided to close their facility for the time being as the league announced in a statement:

​On Tuesday morning, the Titans COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives. The Titans will suspend in-person club activities starting today. Likewise, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities. Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments. All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration.

The Titans and Vikings are not the first teams to have personnel test positive since players returned to team facilities in July, but the situation in Tennessee and possibly Minnesota as well will be one to watch closely: not only are the two teams scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans this week, respectively, the league’s Covid-19 protocols also will be challenged given what can be seen as a minor outbreak.

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, a total of 48 people have been identified as having been in close contact with the eight positives.

As for the New England Patriots, they have not yet had any positive Coronavirus cases and remain one of just three teams — the others being the Texans and the Los Angeles Chargers — to not send a player to NFL’s new Reserve/Covid-19 list since it was introduced earlier this year. The team has, however, been impacted by some false-positive tests in late August: a total of 77 tests on 11 teams were effected by the error.