Steelers Player Tests Positive for COVID-19; PIT in NFL's Intensive Protocol

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent INovember 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is seen the the NLF 100 logo during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the team remained in the league's intensive protocol. 

That requires a team to undergo virtual or outdoor meetings unless masks are worn, and personal protective equipment must be worn at all times, among other guidelines.

Tight end Vance McDonald was later placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That list is used for players who have either tested positive for the virus or have had close contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus. No reason has been given for McDonald's placement on the list.

A staff member tested positive on Saturday, producing the team's first positive test of the regular season, according to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Steelers still played Sunday, when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 24-19 on the road.

In a statement, Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said the player in question was immediately placed in self-quarantine while the team was conducting contact tracing.

Pittsburgh, the only undefeated team in the league, is still scheduled to host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. While its schedule has yet to be affected by its own cases of COVID-19, the team was forced to reschedule their Week 7 bye after its game against Tennessee was moved from Week 4 following the Titans' outbreak. 

Last week, the Steelers were fined $250,000 and head coach Mike Tomlin was charged $100,000 for mask violations after their win over the Baltimore Ravens, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Heading into Week 9, nearly half of the league was dealing with issues related to COVID-19, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, according to John Breech of CBS Sports. 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Friday that he was confident in the league's protocols when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus: 

"As we've repeatedly said, as long as the pandemic is endemic in our society, there will be positive cases, particularly as we see spikes in our communities. Our protocols anticipate that, and are designed to identify it early, isolate the individual and stop the virus from spreading within a team. The protocols have worked, and it's a testament to the hard work of thousands of individuals. We knew it was going to be difficult. It takes all of us to working every day to continue to meet this challenge."