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Saints Coach Sean Payton says he tested positive for coronavirus

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton on the sidelines during a 2019 game. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he announced Thursday.

“Appreciate the well wishes,” Payton wrote on Twitter. “I’m feeling better and fortunate to not have any of the respiratory symptoms. [Four] more days at home.”

Payton’s case makes him the first NFL coach, front-office executive or player known to have tested positive during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Our primary concern is for Sean’s health and well-being,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “He did the right thing by seeking medical attention and we wish him a speedy recovery.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise as this pandemic continues that members of our NFL family will be directly impacted. This news underscores the importance of everyone following the advice from medical and public health experts to protect themselves and others.”

Payton told ESPN that he was publicizing his case because he wants the public to heed warnings relating to attempting to limit the spread of the virus.

“This is not just about social distancing,” Payton told ESPN. “It’s shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It’s not complicated to do what they’re asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.

“I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I’m lucky. Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can’t handle it. So we all need to do our part. It’s important for every one of us to do our part.”

The NFL continued to conduct its offseason business this week, with teams making trades and signing free agents while other sports that are in-season have shut down.

Payton told the network he was at home and would remain quarantined there through the weekend. He took the test Monday after not feeling well Sunday, he said, and received the result Thursday.

The Saints were gathering information and did not immediately comment.

Many NFL teams closed their training facilities. Free agents are prohibited from traveling to meet with teams or undergoing physicals, and teams are barred from traveling to meet with players. The league also prohibited teams from allowing their coaches and scouts to travel to college players’ on-campus pro-day workouts for next month’s NFL draft.

The league canceled its annual meeting late this month in Palm Beach, Fla. It postponed teams’ offseason workout programs indefinitely. It canceled the live event in Las Vegas associated with the NFL draft, which will be held as scheduled April 23-25 but will be a TV-only event.

Coaches, general managers and owners are scheduled to meet in May in Marina del Rey, Calif. Payton is a member of the league’s rulemaking committee, which usually meets during the offseason. Payton participated in the committee’s meetings during last month’s NFL scouting combine.

Payton was in the Saints’ training facility as recently as last Friday, according to NFL Network.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and other notables who have said they have coronavirus

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo | Chris Cuomo has been diagnosed with covid-19, the CNN anchor announced on March 31. “In these difficult times that seem to get more difficult and complicated by the day, I just found out that I am positive for corona virus,” he tweeted. “I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fever, chills and shortness of breath.” (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)