It isn't uncommon for the playing status of an injured football player to be described as "day to day." It's novel for an entire team to acquire that status, but that's the situation the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in after possibly becoming the receiving party in the NFL's first outbreak of COVID-19.
"Novel" like the coronavirus itself, which continues to roil society not only because of its deadly potential but because of the inconsistency of its outcomes. It's a point often lost in debates over the efficacy of restrictive responses to the virus that the measures have been needed because we didn't — and even now don't fully — know what to expect.
As of this writing, no Vikings players or personnel had tested positive after playing the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. But four Titans players — including a starting defensive lineman — and five others working for the team have. The Titans' next game has been briefly postponed. The Vikings next matchup is still on for this weekend, depending. The virus does not necessarily register on a test immediately after exposure. The team was expected to resume practice on Thursday.
The NFL chose not to restrict its activities to a single locale this season as some other pro sports leagues have. That certainly increased its risks, but its protocols for containing a potential outbreak — including multiple tests with rapid results, contact tracing that includes the degree of on-the-field interaction, and strict isolation for those infected — are sound.
Indeed, the league's protocols are as flat-out and fleet as those in general society are scanty and slow. They highlight resources that could keep the full economy functioning even if a widely available vaccine is not delivered at the expedited pace anticipated.
Meanwhile, if it turns out that no members of the Vikings organization were infected during the team's encounter with the Titans, that will add to the enigma of the virus. Events where widespread transmission might have been expected haven't always produced it. Other "superspreader" gatherings have had outsized results.
Some people argue that coronavirus outcomes thus far justify an end to restrictions for those in good general health. We say the virus continues to warrant respect because of its vagaries and irrevocabilities, as the NFL is demonstrating on behalf of its decidedly vigorous employees.