The Baltimore Ravens have not played a game in 11 days. They have not had a day, so far, since then, in which they did not have at least one player test positive for Covid-19. There is no guarantee that they will not discover additional positive cases today through point of contact testing before today’s game, quite frankly.
But a lot of people have questions right now about how the game is still on even though the Ravens just had another positive test among a player yesterday, and with that player having been reported as participating in the team’s conditioning work and walkthroughs over the past two days.
The named player is safety Geno Stone, and according to reports, he is a player whom the league and their medical experts had previously identified as a candidate individual who could potentially have been exposed to the strand of the virus that infected the building.
This is good news and bad news. The good news is, of course, that it wasn’t wholly unpredictable that this would happen, and didn’t catch the league off-guard. The bad news is that he was on the field—even if outdoors, in masks, while being socially distanced—with other players over the course of the past couple of days.
So the question is then, if the league identified him as a player to watch, why was he permitted to be out on the field? There are two ways to respond to this—not necessarily to ‘answer’ it—with one being the technical and the other being the practical.
Technically speaking, the league’s Covid-19 protocols do not mandate that all close contacts of positive cases quarantine. There are three tiers of close contacts, and only the high-risk close contacts are placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List. Low- and medium-risk close contacts may resume work, but would be monitored for symptoms.
Obviously, if he were identified as a high-risk close contact, he would have been placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List like half a dozen other players were. So technically the Ravens did not do anything impermissible here by allowing Stone to carry on with normal procedures even though he had been identified as a potential candidate for infection.
Now, the second question is, shouldn’t they have been more careful anyway, given the fact that they had a widespread outbreak in their organization? Why even risk having these low- and medium-risk players participate in a largely meaningless walkthrough, even if done ‘safely’?
The league maintains that Stone’s participation in these walkthroughs does not pose a threat because they were performed outdoors, in masks, and socially distanced, and contact tracing identified no close contacts through the process.
But it’s fair that many people are questioning whether or not this game would be played today if they weren’t up against the wall. The Ravens, reportedly, literally learned of the positive test while they were boarding the plane (but before they left).