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Coronavirus outbreaks grow among Patriots, Titans

Coronavirus outbreaks grow among Patriots, Titans
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Both the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots have ceased practice as COVID-19 cases continue to rise among players.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that two more players on the Titans had tested positive after a previous six-day streak of positive tests, raising the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 22. According to an anonymous source who spoke to the AP, 20 of those cases have returned since Sept. 29.

Sports Illustrated also reported on Wednesday that New England cornerback and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore had tested positive, joining fellow players Cam Newton and Bill Murray on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots have yet to confirm whether the practices were canceled due to players testing positive for the coronavirus.

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Both teams have had to reschedule games in the light of these outbreaks, with the Titans moving its match with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots rescheduling its game against the Kansas City Chiefs, which also reported a positive test on its team.

The recent outbreaks come as teams are under pressure to play a full schedule in the midst of the pandemic. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a memo on Oct. 1 outlining new COVID-19 protocols, the violation of which could result in new penalties such as forfeiture of games if the schedule is drastically altered.

"Our fans will be deprived of games. Competitive inequities will be introduced into our season. Players will not be paid for games not played and clubs will similarly suffer financial consequences," said Goodell in his memo.

NFL executives are utilizing stricter methods to ensure health and safety guidelines are being followed, such as banning social gatherings outside of the NFL facility, installing cameras to see that players and staff are complying and reducing time spent in shared spaces such as locker rooms.

The Patriots are currently scheduled to go up against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.