Why NFL decided to play 49ers-Packers game despite COVID


Both the 49ers and Green Bay Packers have been dealing with COVID-19 issues ahead of their Thursday night game at Levi's Stadium.

Niners wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive Wednesday but returned a negative test Thursday. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and left tackle Trent Williams were ruled out of Thursday night's game due to being in close contact with Bourne. Packers running back AJ Dillon was placed on the Reserve/COVID list Monday after testing positive and fellow running back Jamaal Wiliams was ruled out after being in close contact with Dillon.

With cases rising around the country, many thought the NFL might choose to move Thursday's game to Sunday or early next week as they have done in a few instances this season. That was not the case, though.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, explained that decision to NFL Media's Judy Battista.

"We did the same thing in this case that we always do," Sills said. "We went through our contact tracing efforts, we try to identify high-risk contacts and then we look at the total number of positive cases we have and also the high-risk contacts. Then, from that, we generate an idea of whether or not we think there is ongoing transmission in the team. In both of these cases with these two teams, we felt like we had a really good handle on the situation. There were no additional positive tests today and so that gave us confidence in moving forward."

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The 49ers will be without a number of their key players Thursday night. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain and tight end George Kittle is out with a fracture in his foot. Aiyuk, Williams and Bourne will join Deebo Samuel (hamstring), Raheem Mostert (ankle), Tevin Coleman (knee) and Jeff Wilson (ankle).

Meanwhile, the Packers might be down to their third- and fourth-string running backs as Williams and Dillon are out due to COVID protocols and Aaron Jones is questionable with a calf injury.

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