NFL places Detroit Lions in intensive COVID-19 protocol; game not currently in jeopardy

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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After a Detroit Lions staff member tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the NFL, at the direction of its chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, has placed the team in the league's intensive protocol. 

The staff member's positive test comes at the end of a week that saw the Lions place three players, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, on the league's COVID-19 reserve list. 

The intensive protocol is designed to mitigate the risk of additional virus transmission, while allowing teams to continue football operations. The most prominent feature is the significant reduction of in-person contact between players and staff. That includes all meetings being moved to a virtual format or held outdoors, until further notice. 

The Lions had three players land on the COVID-19 reserve list this week.

"Our club was notified today that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19," the team wrote in a statement. "We are currently operating under the NFL’s Intensive Protocol. The individual immediately self-quarantined and has not been in our practice facility for the last 48 hours. Today’s practice was conducted in compliance with the NFL’s Intensive Protocol, and we will continue to take precautionary measures at our Allen Park practice facility.

"The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff remains our top priority. We will continue to follow the guidance of the NFL, its medical staff and our team doctors as we prepare for Sunday’s game against Minnesota."

The status of this Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings is not currently in jeopardy. 

The Lions will still be able to conduct practices and walk-throughs, but with additional safety measures. During practices, all players and coaches will now be required to wear either a mask (no gaiters) or face shield. Players may temporarily remove their masks during breaks, as long as they are six feet away from anyone else. 

Weight room work will be limited to a maximum of 10 players and five staff. Again, masks and social distancing will be required at all times. 

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Similarly, when getting medical treatment at the facility, both players and training staff members must wear surgical-grade masks, as well as a face shield. 

Additionally, the team's common dining areas will be shut down, while locker room usage is strongly discouraged. 

The Lions are one of several teams that have been placed under the intensive protocols this week, along with the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. 

The Lions will remain in intensive protocol until Dr. Sills clears them to return to normal protocols. 

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