Atlanta Falcons COVID Outbreak as Third NFL Team Shuts down Facility after Positive Test

The Atlanta Falcons have become the third NFL team to shut down its facility due to positive coronavirus tests.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Thursday morning the Falcons had taken the decision after four players returned positive COVID-19 tests.

However, in a subsequent statement, the organization clarified Wednesday's round of testing had returned just one positive test and that it came from a member of personnel and not a player.

"Out of an abundance of caution follow one new positive test, we have made the decision to stop all in-person work at IBM Performance Field Thursday and will conduct operations virtually," the statement read.

"This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and medical officials. The health and safety of our team is our highest priority."

Since the beginning of the season, the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots have both been forced to close their facilities because of players testing positive to COVID-19.

The Falcons were one of the first NFL teams to be affected by coronavirus last month, when rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell became the first player to miss a game because of coronavirus after returning a positive test before the Falcons hosted the Chicago Bears in Week 3.

Terrell was sidelined for two games before returning to the team on October 8.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, Atlanta placed rookie defensive lineman Marlon Davidson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Falcons have lost their first five games of the season and are scheduled to travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon. The status of the game is now uncertain and the NFL is yet to officially confirm whether it will go ahead as planned.

It is worth noting, however, that a member of the Tennessee Titans coaching staff returned a positive test on Sunday, yet the Titans game against the Buffalo Bills went ahead as scheduled on Tuesday night. The game was originally scheduled for last Sunday, October 10, but two days prior the NFL postponed it after Tennessee confirmed 13 players and 10 team personnel members had tested positive.

The latter number increased to 11 on Sunday and while the Titans initially shut down their training facility, they subsequently received the green light from the NFL to practice on Sunday afternoon.

Tennessee had first closed its facility on September 29, forcing the league to postpone its Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to Week 7.

The Patriots, meanwhile, closed their facility on three separate occasions earlier this month.

Cam Newton tested positive on October 3, forcing the NFL to postpone the Patriots game against the Kansas City Chiefs by a day to October 5.

The league subsequently opted to push the game against the Denver Broncos back from this past Monday to this coming Sunday after New England returned more positive tests—including reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

While Gilmore remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Newton has been cleared to play against the Broncos in Week 6.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 11 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty