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Eight Saints staff test positive for COVID-19 ahead of Panthers game

The Saints have seen eight reported cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, including six offensive coaches, a player and a nutritionist, according to ESPN.

The player in question appears to be wide receiver Michael Thomas, who was placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He was already on the roster physically unable to play, so this case won’t impact the Saints for this week’s game.

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The Saints have not disclosed any further information on the cases, although the status of the coaches concerned for Sunday’s game against the Panthers is questionable.

Coach Sean Payton announced that all coaching staff are vaccinated. The vaccination status of Thomas and the nutritionist is unknown.

That said, NFL players and coaching staff are tested every day, regardless of their immunization status. Therefore, if the vaccinees are asymptomatic and test negative twice 24 hours apart, they will be allowed to return to the team. But, if they are not vaccinated, they must isolate themselves for at least 10 days even if they are asymptomatic. The Saints now follow improved NFL mitigation protocols, which include indoor mask wear and daily testing.

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This is the first major COVID-19 breakout in the NFL this season, and it came just after week 1. The NFL announced on September 3 that 93% of players were vaccinated. For now, only two teams are fully vaccinated: the Falcons and the Buccaneers.

This is not the first time the Saints have made headlines regarding COVID-19. In March 2020, Payton became the first person associated with the NFL to get COVID-19.

MORE: Saints coach Sean Payton says he tested positive for coronavirus

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