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Saints' Sean Payton says he tested positive for coronavirus

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told ESPN on Thursday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Payton has had COVID-19 for about eight days and has five more days of quarantine ahead of him. Payton, who attended a horse race at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on Saturday, felt like he was coming down with a cold and was not feeling well, which prompted the test, Rapoport added.

Payton texted NFL Network's Steve Wyche that he currently is feeling well.

"I'm really good, considering," Payton said. "Symptoms began Sunday pm. Got tested Monday. Results today. Fortunately, no respiratory issues. No high fever."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Thursday evening.

"Our primary concern is for Sean's health and well-being," Goodell said in the 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 is the first known person in the league to test positive for COVID-19.

Payton told ESPN that he decided to come forward with his diagnosis because he wants people to listen to government advice about responsible behavior during the new coronavirus pandemic.

"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."

Goodell announced Monday night that the league and NFLPA have agreed to indefinitely delay the start of teams' offseason programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams with new head coaches were scheduled to begin their offseason program April 6, while April 20 was the date for the rest of the league's teams. Teams also have been instructed to close their facilities to players -- other than those undergoing medically supervised rehab -- for the next two weeks.

The NFL also announced Monday that the 2020 draft will proceed as scheduled April 23-25 and will be televised, but the annual selection process will no longer include public events in Las Vegas.

Last week, the league prohibited teams from conducting pre-draft visits to team facilities.

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