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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Payton told ESPN that he wanted to reveal his diagnosis to help other people recognize the severity of the virus and to heed all warnings and advisories from government and health officials. He said that he was fatigued but didn’t have a fever or a cough and had one of the more mild cases of the virus.
He said he was also making sure to practice good quarantine protocols while he was sick.
"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."
Payton took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon, too.
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) March 19, 2020
“Our primary concern is for Sean’s health and well-being,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a 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 was at horse track over the weekend
Payton’s comments about flattening the curve and social distancing come just days after he was at a horse track. The coach was interviewed by horse racing channel TVG while he was at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on Saturday about the potential impact of coronavirus on the NFL.
— TVG (@TVG) March 14, 2020
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on “NFL Live” that Payton told him he started feeling sick on Sunday and took the coronavirus test Monday. Experts have warned that the coronavirus can take 2-14 days for symptoms to set in and that asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus unknowingly before they start to feel ill.
As of Thursday morning, there were nearly 350 known cases of coronavirus in Louisiana as the total of confirmed positive cases continued to grow in the United States. The total number of known cases in the U.S. surpassed 5,000 on Thursday.
Payton’s revelation comes after several NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus and members of MLB organizations have also tested positive. (Hours before Payton’s diagnosis was published by ESPN, the Denver Nuggets said a member of their organization had tested positive for COVID-19 but did not reveal if that was a player or a staffer.)
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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