Falcons have third shutdown after 2 positive COVID-19 tests

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris (center) prepares his team to play the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct 25, 2020 in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris (center) prepares his team to play the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct 25, 2020 in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

For the third time this season, the Falcons shut down their facilities after two positive COVID-19 test of non-coaching staff members Thursday.

The team will work virtually, and the game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday is still on at this time. The Falcons (3-7) are set to host the Raiders (6-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Contact-tracing protocols have commenced and at this time we have stopped all in-person work at IBM Performance Field with all operations conducted virtually on Thursday,” the team said in a statement.

The Falcons consulted with NFL medical officials. “The health and safety of our team is our highest priority,” the team said.

The Falcons had a shutdown on the Friday before playing Denver on Nov. 8.

After two positive COVID-19 tests, the Falcons, who have had 12 players placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list and one coach test positive, earlier shut down their facility Oct. 15.

The Falcons also were the first team to have a player on the list during the 2020 season, before there were outbreaks in Tennessee, New England, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Baltimore. This week’s game between the Ravens and Steelers was moved from Thanksgiving night to Sunday.

After the first shutdown, the Falcons returned to the building that Friday and played their game against the Vikings in Minneapolis on Oct. 18. They also played their game against Denver and have not had a game rescheduled this season.

Five players – Dante Fowler, Laquon Treadwell, A.J. Terrell, Marlon Davidson and John Cominsky – were placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list since the start of the season.

After the Davidson, Cominsky and defensive line coach Jess Simpson cases, the Falcons were under a heightened level of protocols.

The Falcons are not permitted to comment on a player’s medical status other than to refer to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether a player is in quarantine or tested positive for COVID-19.

The trend of rising COVID-19 cases around the nation is troublesome to the NFL.

“It’s getting more challenging over these next few weeks because the disease is spiking throughout the country,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, recently.

Fowler, Treadwell, Davidson, Cominsky, Terrell, safety Jamal Carter, fullback Keith Smith, safety Chris Cooper, rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, quarterback Danny Etling and linebacker Foye Oluokun all served stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Etling later was released.

Falcons’ next four games

Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29

Saints at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10

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