The Washington Football Team entered intensive protocols Tuesday morning after defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Ioannidis is on injured reserve and, the person said, did not travel to Detroit for Sunday’s loss to the Lions. He was most recently in the team facility Friday.
This week, Washington’s facility is not expected to shut down. Staff will remain in the building, but players’ attendance will be limited to scheduled rehab or conditioning. Players will not be allowed in the facility before the practices the team plans to hold in some capacity throughout the week before Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. This starts with a light walk-through Wednesday, according to a team spokesman.
After a player tests positive, the process for an NFL team goes like this: Isolate the player; contact-trace using the tracking devices everyone must wear in the facility; quarantine the high-risk, close contacts for five days; follow intensive protocols; and make all meetings remote.
For now, the NFL is advising the team and head athletic trainer, Ryan Vermillion, who’s serving as the organization’s lead infectious-control officer. The intensive protocols mandate wearing masks at all times, even on the practice field, and say masks should be removed only for essential activities, such as drinking water. The team is optimistic this is an isolated incident, according to the person with knowledge of the situation, and only if further testing reveals an outbreak, like the Tennessee Titans faced earlier this season, would the facility fully shut down for an indefinite period.
Still, the positive case leaves Washington in momentary limbo. If the other tests return negative, Washington could fully reopen its facility for players as early as Wednesday. If they return with one positive, or if other players test positive in the coming days, it gets more complicated. It’s possible what happened to the Cleveland Browns could provide insight moving forward.
Cleveland entered intensive protocols Nov. 7 after a team staffer tested positive. In the next nine days, the team shut down its facility twice after a player tested positive. Both times, the tests of other players returned negative hours later, and there were no high-risk close contacts, so the Browns could reopen. The team resumed regular activities again Tuesday morning, about an hour before Washington announced its first positive test.
This is not Washington’s first experience with coronavirus issues. In May, rookie wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden announced he had tested positive, and in late July, just as training camp started, the team placed tight end Logan Thomas on the NFL’s covid-19 reserve list. In October, the team fined quarterback Dwayne Haskins for violating the team’s coronavirus protocols by making a reservation at the team hotel for a family friend.
Ioannidis, a fifth-year lineman out of Temple, was placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list late Tuesday.
The Washington Post’s Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala contributed to this report.