Reports: Panthers COVID-19 transmission linked to players gathering outside facility, NFL doctor says

Reports: Panthers COVID-19 transmission linked to players gathering outside facility, NFL doctor says
Members of the Carolina Panthers stand during a special presentation in an empty stadium before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (Source: AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The NFL’s top doctor says COVID-19 transmission within the Carolina Panthers organization is linked to players gathering outside the facility, according to multiple reports.

The news was reported Wednesday by NFL.com, the Athletic, the Associated Press and The Charlotte Observer.

Alaina Getzenberg, the Panthers beat reporter for the Charlotte Observer, reported that NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said the team’s COVID-19 issues stemmed from “gathering of players” away from team’s facility during bye week.

Dr. Sills said this during a media call on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Dr. Sills, the NFL is working with the team and the players about how to conduct themselves away from the facility.

According to The Athletic’s Joe Person, Dr. Sills said the NFL has “worked with the involved individuals and I think we’ll continue to see improvement there (with) repeated messaging.”

The Panthers reported no new positive tests overnight into Tuesday, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Panthers could potentially face fines and/or loss of a draft pick for their players’ actions.

The Carolina Panthers placed several key players on the reserve/COVID list ahead of this weekend’s home game against the Denver Broncos.

Eight Panthers were added to the list, including offensive standouts D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.

First-round pick Derrick Brown, along with veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson, were also added to the COVID list.

The addition of those four, plus defensive tackle Zach Kerr, tackle Greg Little, punter Michael Palardy and wide receiver Ishmael Hyman make 10 Panthers players on the COVID list within the past week.

Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and practice squad defensive tackle Bruce Hector remain assigned to the COVID list.

According to the Panthers, teams may not disclose whether a player has tested positive for COVID-19 or whether he is quarantining because of close exposure to someone who has tested positive, and the difference will determine how much time players could miss.

The Panthers play the Broncos on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. The status of whether those players will be eligible has not been determined.

According to the Charlotte Observer, being added to the COVID list doesn’t necessarily rule the players out for Sunday’s game. They could be positive tests or just an exposure through contact tracing.

The Panthers had a bye this past weekend after losing 28-27 to the Vikings on Nov. 29.

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