- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Matt Ioannidis became the first Washington player to test positive for the coronavirus since the start of the regular season, according to a source familiar with the situation — forcing the team to enter the NFL’s intensive protocols.

Ioannidis, a 26-year-old defensive end, is on injured reserve and did not travel with the team for Sunday’s game at Detroit. But due to the league’s reworked plans for teams that have a positive result, Washington must now conduct its meetings virtually and players will have limited access to the team facility in Ashburn. While there, players must wear masks at almost all times, even for practice.

Washington had been one of the few remaining NFL teams without a positive coronavirus test during the season. According to the NFL Network, the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks are the last two teams for all tests to return negative.

In a statement, Washington said it was working closely with the NFL to follow their guidance.

“The player immediately self-isolated and the contact tracing data was evaluated,” Washington said, not revealing Ioannidis by name. “All of the player’s close contacts have been told to quarantine.”

Instead of normal practice, Washington plans to hold a lighter walkthrough Wednesday as part of its adjusted schedule.

Beyond Washington, the league has seen an uptick in positive results as cases have also surged around the country. Between Nov. 6 and Nov. 14, the NFL had 17 players test positive — representing 17% of the overall cases among players that have been diagnosed since Aug. 1. The league has had 95 players test positive, while 175 other league personnel — coaches, executives and other workers — have caught the virus.

Other teams adding players to the reserve list Tuesday included the New York Giants (kicker Graham Gano), the Atlanta Falcons (wide receiver Laquon Treadwell) and the Las Vegas Raiders (defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell and safety Lamarcus Joyner).

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said he believes that most of the league’s cases are coming from outside team facilities. He said the NFL is doing genomic testing to try determine how the virus is being contracted and how it is spread.

“We are not seeing transmission within our clubs,” Sills said.

As of now, Washington’s upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals is still scheduled to happen. On Monday, the team announced that no fans would be allowed to attend the game due to the rise in cases around the DMV area. Maryland, the state where Washington plays, has had more than 1,000 cases per day over the last two weeks, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Washington had previously let 3,000 fans attend a Week 9 loss to the New York Giants at FedEx Field, its first instance of doing so this season.

Before Ioannidis’ case, Washington had taken great pride in the fact that a player had yet to test positive since the season began. Coach Ron Rivera said it was an example of players properly following protocols and taking the virus seriously.

Other players like Kendall Fuller and Terry McLaurin agreed.

“It first starts with coach Rivera and preaching the message of taking care of ourselves,” McLaurin said.

Washington did have at least two players test positive in the offseason, though they were outside the team’s headquarters. Tight end Logan Thomas was placed on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list at the start of training camp, while rookie wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden caught it in March prior to being drafted.

Ioannidis, meanwhile, has been on injured reserve since Sept. 28. His season ended when he tore his biceps in a loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. After his injury, Ioannidis was still attending his rehab appointments, but reportedly hadn’t been in the facility in the last three days.


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