Chris Jones Returns to Practice After Reserve/COVID-19 Designation

On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was placed on the Chiefs' Reserve/COVID-19 list after being in close contact with someone who had been exposed to the coronavirus. On Friday, Chris Jones returned to practice.
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On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was placed on the Chiefs' Reserve/COVID-19 list after presumably being in contact with someone who had been exposed to the coronavirus. On Friday, Chris Jones returned to practice.

Later on Thursday, Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star reported that Jones had not tested positive for COVID-19, but had been in contact with someone who may have, which was determined through contact tracing.

This all followed a positive COVID-19 test for a Chiefs staff member, which was later reported to be Rick Burkholder, the Chiefs' vice president of sports medicine and performance and the team's infectious control officer, a position that all 32 NFL teams were required to fill before the season.

A report earlier Friday from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed that Jones had come in "close contact with a staffer who was COVID-19 positive," presumably-but-unofficially Burkholder, but that Jones had been cleared to return to the building on Friday.

That's the news. This next part is trying to piece together the rest of the information. Here's why I'm a little bit confused:

This tweet from The Athletic's Lindsay Jones lays out the rules for what happens when a player comes into "high-risk close contact" with someone with COVID-19. Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman missed three games on the Reserve/COVID-19 list despite never personally testing positive, at least as far as we know.

...So how did Chris Jones get cleared in less than 24 hours?

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that Jones' close contact wasn't Burkholder, which would explain a number of the confusing parts of the story.

However, Rapoport discussed Jones' return on NFL Network and still cited Burkholder as Jones' contact.

On Friday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid declined to get into details about where Jones' COVID run-in came from, emphasizing that they followed the league's protocol. Reid said Jones is on track to play on Sunday.