TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The head coach of the New Orleans Saints tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, just days before his team is set to take on the Buccaneers in Tampa.
The Saints released a statement Friday afternoon confirming Head Coach Sean Payton, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for the virus. According to the statement, Payton was immediately isolated.
“Per NFL protocols, Payton will be out for 10 days unless he meets the league requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return to the team environment,” the team’s statement said.
The NFL updated COVID-19 protocols on Thursday in response to a surge in virus cases around the league. Part of the protocol changes include requiring masks regardless of vaccination status, and remote or outdoor meetings. It also is stopping in-person meals, adding restrictions on activities outside the facility, prohibiting outside visitors during team travel, and limiting the amount of people in team weight rooms.
“Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19,” the league said in a statement. “All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our No. 1 goal for the entire NFL community.”
The Saints’ defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, will act as the head coach against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday.
The Bucs and Saints are this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup. Kickoff is slated for 8:20 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.