Sport: NFL expecting huge COVID-19 spike after Thanksgiving?

Broncos DC Ed Donatell back home recovering after COVID-related hospitalization

  Broncos DC Ed Donatell back home recovering after COVID-related hospitalization Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell required hospitalization after contracting the coronavirus, according to the team. The second-year Denver DC was hospitalized last week but discharged Sunday. Donatell, 63, has been battling COVID-19 symptoms since Oct. 31 and has missed the past three games. Donatell, who is in his third stint with the franchise, is one of a few Broncos staffers to have contracted the virus. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins did so in October, and offensive line coach Mike Munchak was in the team’s COVID protocol.

The NFL news cycle has been dominated by COVID-19 outbreaks this season as teams struggle to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately for the NFL, with the playoff race heating up, bigger problems could be looming.

a large stadium © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before training camp began, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to daily testing of all players and personnel. While the numbers started out promising this season, they’ve taken a concerning turn with 52 new cases of COVID-19 found from Nov. 8-14. Now, things are about to get even worse.

According to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, the NFL is bracing for a significant post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases across the league. There is a fear that with the surge in the virus, it will have an impact on the remaining regular-season games.

Zoom-ing for Thanksgiving dinner this year? Here's how to make the most of it

  Zoom-ing for Thanksgiving dinner this year? Here's how to make the most of it People around the country plan to turn to video calls for Thanksgiving dinners this year. Here's how to improve your Zooms-giving plans.Whether it's a full Thanksgiving dinner to be shared virtually or just a quick FaceTime to check in, people around the country plan to turn to video calls to catch up with family and friends they'd otherwise visit during the recent COVID-19 surge.

The NFL has every reason to be concerned. Cases of COVID-19 are spiking across the United States, with the country exceeding 100,000-plus new positive tests every day since November began. It’s also a trend that reflects in the NFL’s testing of players and personnel, with 47 percent of cases in the regular season coming in November.

  • Oct. 4-10: Eight new cases among players, seven confirmed positives among personnel
  • Oct. 11-17: Eight new cases among players, 11 confirmed positives among personnel
  • Oct. 18-24: Eight new cases among players, 11 confirmed positives among personnel
  • Oct. 25-31: Eight new cases among players, 17 confirmed positives among personnel
  • Nov. 1-7: 15 new cases among players, 41 confirmed positives among personnel
  • Nov. 8-14: 17 new cases among players, 35 confirmed positives among personnel

Just this week, with cases surging, the NFL put all 32 teams into the league’s intensive protocol. Despite the measures taken, there have been outbreaks across the country. The New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles are among a handful of teams that had players or personnel test positive for COVID-19 this week.

As Governors Lock Down, Millions of Americans Are Booking Thanksgiving Travel, Planning Parties

  As Governors Lock Down, Millions of Americans Are Booking Thanksgiving Travel, Planning Parties In a turbulent year marked by COVID killing over a quarter of a million Americans, but also isolation and paused lives, Americans must weigh up their priorities and the risks they are willing to take when celebrating Thanksgiving. A forecast from the American Automobile Association that 50 million people will travel for Thanksgiving is indicative of the choice of some. A survey by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found almost two in five Americans plan go to a gathering of more than 10 people. A third said they would not require guests to wear a mask.

Problems really began for the NFL in October, when the Tennessee Titans had a massive coronavirus outbreak. The league launched an investigation, which determined the team often failed to follow basic COVID-19 safety protocols. However, the organization avoided significant discipline.

Since that time, the NFL hasn’t taken repeated violations nearly as lightly. After warning teams that failing to meet basic safety precautions would lead to severe consequences, the league started dropping the hammer.

The NFL handed down harsh penalties to the Las Vegas Raiders for repeated violations. It came after a pattern of negligent behavior at every level, and discipline followed. Jon Gruden was fined for not wearing a mask during a home game against the New Orleans Saints. Shortly after that, the NFL fined Raiders’ players for COVID-19 violations at a charity event.

We could see the New Orleans Saints headed for a similar punishment, following repeated violations of the COVID-19 protocols.

Lines to get tested for coronavirus are growing long ahead of Thanksgiving and amid rising cases

  Lines to get tested for coronavirus are growing long ahead of Thanksgiving and amid rising cases As US coronavirus cases soar and people seek tests ahead of Thanksgiving travel, long lines are forming outside testing sites around the country, appointments are filling up, and commercial labs are warning that their capacities are being stretched. © Bebeto Matthews/AP People wait in a line stretching around a block outside an urgent care clinic offering Covid-19 testing in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday.

There’s a reason the NFL is fearful its cases will spike in the two weeks after Thanksgiving. According to CBS Sports, a high-ranking league source indicated the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases among players happened because they had people over at their homes.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s easy to expect that players and team personnel will be spending time with their families. With countless people traveling, exposed to the virus’s potential carriers, the odds of COVID-19 spreading spike dramatically.

The NFL hasn’t been forced to reschedule or postpone a game since Week 7, when it moved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders game from Sunday afternoon to "Sunday Night Football." Continuing to push through with games, even amid sizable outbreaks, has been due to the NFL’s desire to avoid massive changes.

With that said, preparations are already being made for future postponed games. The NFL is willing to host a Week 18 slate for makeup games, which would result in Super Bowl LV being pushed back.

It’s not the only option being considered. The league recently approved a plan for a 16-team playoff, part of a contingency plan if a COVID-19 outbreak affects the regular-season schedule.

NFL expecting huge COVID-19 spike after Thanksgiving?

  NFL expecting huge COVID-19 spike after Thanksgiving? Air Force RB Brad Roberts had 28 carries for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons 28-0 win over New Mexico on Friday night.

The NFL is already in danger of losing billions of dollars in revenue because of the pandemic. If it doesn't handle things correctly for the rest of the year and during the playoffs, it will be far worse.

Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸

More must-reads:

  • NFL teams must go into intensive COVID protocols for remainder of season
  • NFL considering bubbles for conference championships amid rising COVID concerns
  • The 'Most interceptions thrown' quiz

Related slideshow: COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues (Provided by Yardbarker)

Ravens WR Willie Snead tests positive for COVID-19 Sunday .
Watch some quick efficient passing by Louisville. As soon as David Johnson catches the ball he tosses it up to the hoop for Jae'Lyn Withers to throw it down for the ACC Must See Moment.

See also