Giants head coach Joe Judge gave his normal, thorough breakdown of this week’s opponent – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to kick off his Thursday morning press conference. But the obvious elephant in the room gave way to a multitude of questions that he gladly answered in depth.
Will Hernandez was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list, the team announced, after getting a confirmed positive test back late Wednesday night. In turn, seven other players and two coaches were sent home to self-isolate, as the team ran through its contact tracing process.
The Giants still practiced without them on Thursday, preparing for the Bucs on Monday Night Football, but Judge said the team is optimistic that at least the players who were in contact with Hernandez would be available this week.
“About 13 hours ago I was notified there were some issues — maybe a little bit long than that ago,” he explained. “We got the list of players, we made adjustments, we had a couple coaches involved. We’ve been fortunate that there’s really no high-risk guys within the tracer contacts. We have some precautions we have to take as a team. We’re optimistic to get all these guys back, so we’re operating like we’re going to get them back.
“The optimism of all the people who were only related through tracers is very high right now. Their amount of exposure to this was on the minimum level to be registered in this category, so that kinda eliminates them from being high-risk guys, which is good.”
Judge added that he hasn’t spoken to Hernandez yet, but his health is a top priority.
As for what’s going to change moving forward, Judge said that meetings will be changed to virtual ones and other adjustments have been made.
“We’ve made some adjustments on the field to incorporate some face shields and masks during practice, which has not been required for now,” he said.
This is a very serious matter that Judge understands fully. Looking around the league at the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, COVID outbreaks can happen at any time. So containing the virus is key for everyone involved, and Judge knows it will take everyone to make sure an outbreak doesn’t start in East Rutherford.
“The message remains constant. We just got to remind each other constantly,” he said. “ Look, it’s all about being safe, putting ourselves in the right situations. It’s about the social distancing in the building, the protocols with the masks, the PPEs. We just gotta go ahead and stay consistent with that through the season and put ourselves in the best position possible.”
The game against Tampa Bay has not been postponed, and the Giants will prepare that way as Judge mentioned. But the situation is obviously fluid as both teams and the league as a whole will keep a watchful eye on New York in the coming days.