The first known novel coronavirus case has hit the NFL world, as Saints coach Sean Payton has tested positive.
The Thursday afternoon report by ESPN revealed that Payton came forward with his coronavirus diagnosis because he wants all people to heed the warnings of government officials, stay inside, and behave responsibly.
"This is not just about social distancing," Payton told ESPN. "It's shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It's not complicated to do what they're asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact."
"I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I'm lucky. Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can't handle it. So we all need to do our part. It's important for every one of us to do our part."
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Payton has had the virus for eight days, and has been in confinement for the past five. Rapoport notes that Payton is in good spirits, and added that Payton attended a horse race at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. Payton reportedly felt like he was coming down with a cold and wasn’t feeling right. He eventually got tested, and was found to have the coronavirus. The report also indicates that Payton sounds like he’s feeling better now.
This obviously hits close to home for Saints fans, as we've seen COVID-19 affect other major sports outlets and figures. A recent Thursday afternoon report from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards stated 10 people have died in the state from COVID-19, with two new deaths in New Orleans.
NFL Network's Steve Wyche received a text from Payton on Thursday afternoon, which said: "I'm really good. Symptoms began Sunday pm. Got tested Monday. Results today. Fortunately no respiratory issues. No high fever."
If there were any doubts, Payton took to Twitter to post about his status.