Lightning Training Facilities Closed after Positive COVID-19 Tests


The Lightning shut down their Florida training facilities after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, ESPN first reported on Friday. Julien BriseBois, the team's general manager, confirmed the outbreak in a statement later on Friday.

Two players and three staffers tested positive, according to BriseBois. 

"Those players have been self-isolating following CDC protocols and are asymptomatic other than a few cases of law-grade fever," the statement reads. "Those who have been in contact with these individuals have been notified."

It continued, "Upon receiving positive tests yesterday team training facilities were immediately closed with all players and staff being sent home. Those facilities will remain temporarily shut down until we can ensure a safe environment."

The tests came back during mandatory twice-weekly testing, which is required by the NHL.

Amalie Arena will be closed until at least July 6, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Other Lightning personnel who have recently been inside facilities are now being tested. The NHL and Lightning leadership will decide how to proceed after those test results come back.

The outbreak occurred during Phase 2 of the NHL's return to play protocol, which was released on May 24 and began operating on June 8. Phase 2 allows small groups of up to six players to train in team facilities at a time. It followed Phase 1—instituted on March 12—which required players and personnel to enter self-isolation.

On Friday, Florida's Department of Health confirmed 3,822 new coronavirus cases, breaking the state's previous record for most new confirmed cases in a single day.

Elsewhere in the area, the Philadelphia Phillies said that five players and three staff members had tested positive after visiting their spring training facility in Clearwater, Fla. The facility is located 22 miles from Tampa. 

In his statement, BriseBois called for individuals to continue doing their part to ensure their personal and communal health and safety.

"With a significant rise in cases in the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the State of Florida we are imploring everyone in the Bay Area, especially young people, to help slow the spread of this pandemic by diligently following the recommendations of government officials by wearing a mask, participating in social distancing and continuing to wash their hands regularly," the statement reads. "We need to work together as a community to slow the spread."

Also on Friday, the Toronto Sun reported that the Maple Leafs star center Auston Matthews tested positive for COVID-19.

The NHL is expected to release the details of Phases 3 (Training Camp) and 4 (playing games in hub cities) soon. Players are required to report to training camps on July 10 before the NHL's 24-game postseason. According to ESPN, the league has narrowed its list of potential hub cities, with two chosen hosts expected to be announced early next week.

It is unclear whether these positive cases will impact the pending release of those plans.