The Vikings had eight players, one coach and three staff members who returned presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 on Sunday, on the same morning teams around the NFL were reporting false positive tests in connection with a lab in New Jersey the league has used to process daily test results for some teams.
Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings’ 12 affected people are quarantining Sunday and will watch the Vikings’ team meetings virtually instead of practicing. Further testing should give the Vikings additional clarity by Monday as to whether the players actually have COVID-19.
The Vikings will still practice as scheduled on Sunday afternoon, though the session might be shorter with temperatures in the high 80s and fewer players available to practice, Zimmer said.
“If these all turn out negative, then there was a problem at the lab,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, if they’re positive, there might be a problem with things we’re doing, or other teams are doing, or whatever. It’s hard for me to speculate now on what it is or what it was.”
The Vikings’ announcement comes after a spate of positive test results that caused teams to cancel practices or change plans. The Jets canceled a walk-through on Saturday night after reporting 10 false positive tests, and the Bears moved their Sunday morning practice back to the afternoon following nine false positives. The Browns canceled practice, and the Steelers announced they had six players held out of practice because of “adherence to the COVID-19 protocol,” though they said none of their players needed to go on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list.
“Saturday’s daily COVID testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey,” the league said in a statement Sunday morning. “We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests. Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate. The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results.”
While the Bears said they have a lab in Minnesota involved in their testing process, Zimmer said the Vikings do not send tests to a lab in Minnesota. He added he believes the Vikings’ tests on Sunday will go back to the same New Jersey lab that produced the false positives.
In the meantime, the Vikings will move forward with practice and hope further testing shows the group of 12 affected people doesn’t have coronavirus.
“Honestly, for us, it’s probably good that it happened now,” Zimmer said. “We were able to adjust and adapt and figure out the kinds of things that would happen if it did happen during the season and what we would do from there.”