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8 Tennessee Titans Players And Staff Test Positive For Coronavirus

Two NFL teams are suspending all in-person club activities after the Tennessee Titans announced three players and five other personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus. Joining the Titans in shutting down in-person activities are the Minnesota Vikings, who played against them Sunday.

The Vikings saidthat as of Tuesday morning, no one in their organization has gotten a positive result from tests carried out after Sunday's game.

"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," the NFL's communications office saidin a joint statement with the NFL Players Association.

"All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration," the statement said.

It's seen as the first coronavirus outbreak for a NFL team during a season that is entering its fourth week. Before now, only a handful of players and slightly more staff members had tested positive during the season. The league has been conducting tens of thousands of tests, in a program that it was recently celebrating as a success.

NFL teams have been operating under a range of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic — most notably, all games have been played in stadiums that are either empty of fans or at sharply reduced capacity due to concerns about the possible spread of the coronavirus.

There is no firm word yet on whether the Titans' game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, slated for Sunday, will go ahead as planned. The Steelers issued a statement Tuesday saying that so far, they've been told to prepare as normal.

Tennessee is currently reporting nearly 194,000 coronavirus cases, including 2,389 deaths, according to data from the state Department of Health.

The coronavirus safety rules require coaches and other staff to wear face masks on the sideline during games. But after several coaches failed to follow that rule, the NFL issued substantial fines last week.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.