NFL Records Two Coronavirus Cases on Same Day as Rams' Brian Allen, Chargers Staff Member Contract Virus

Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen is the first NFL player to test positive for coronavirus.

The 24-year-old told FOX Sports on Wednesday that he began showing symptoms of COVID-19 three weeks ago, noting he felt fatigued and suffered from headaches and a sore throat. The third-year center also lost his sense of smell and taste, all symptoms that have been reported by those who have contracted the virus.

Allen, however, added that he was feeling much better and is expected to be rid of the virus by this week. In a brief statement, the Rams confirmed Allen was on the mend.

He is "feeling good, he's healthy and he's on the road to recovery," coach Sean McVay said.

The diagnosis proved a major logistical challenge for the Rams, given Allen was spending the off-season at the team's training facility where he was undergoing rehab on the serious knee injury that curtailed his campaign after just nine games last season.

As soon as Allen tested positive, the Rams closed down the facility for two weeks to prevent any other players or team personnel from getting infected. The facility was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Doors reopened to players undergoing rehab this week.

Allen, a fourth-round pick form Michigan State in 2018, is the first NFL player to publicly acknowledge testing positive for coronavirus. His admission came on the same day as the Los Angeles Chargers reported a member of their organization had tested positive for the virus, while two others have shown symptoms but have not tested positive.

The diagnosis came approximately two weeks after the Chargers closed their facilities on March 12 to anyone other than essential staff.

Team spokesman Josh Rupprecht did not reveal the identity of the trio, but told ESPN that team owner Dean Spanos, general manager Tom Telesco, and head coach Anthony Lynn were not among the group to test positive or show symptoms.

Until Wednesday, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was the only member of a NFL team to test positive for COVID-19. The 56-year-old tested positive on March 19, but by the end of last month he confirmed he had been cleared and was feeling well.

While the NBA and NHL have been suspended indefinitely and the MLB has postponed the beginning of its regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL remains adamant the season will begin as scheduled on September 10.

The league has been forced to hold the draft remotely later this month rather than its planned extravaganza in Las Vegas, but with the regular season still five months away executives remain confident the NFL will avoid the fate met by its counterparts.

Earlier this month, however, the league's chief medical officer warned a number of conditions must be met for the NFL season to begin as scheduled, including testing players and fans for coronavirus symptoms.

"As long as we're still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don't think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport," Dr. Allen Sills told NFL.com. "Because we're going to have positive cases for a very long time."

On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the only feasible route to have the major sport leagues back in action in the summer is to have games played behind closed doors.

"Nobody comes to the stadium," Fauci, a prominent member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, told Snapchat's Good Luck America host Peter Hamby.

"Put them in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out."

As of Thursday morning, over 639,600 cases have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally in the world. Almost 31,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 52,700 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 137,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over two million confirmed cases globally.

Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams
Brian Allen #55 congratulates Greg Zuerlein #4 of the Los Angeles Rams for a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Streeter Lecka/Getty