Payton: Move to hotel helped Saints limit COVID-19 numbers

The Saints moved players and team personnel into a downtown New Orleans hotel throughout training camp with the goal of limiting the team’s exposure to COVID-19.

With training camp complete and the Saints preparing for their Week 1 matchup with the Tampa Bay  Buccaneers, New Orleans only has one player, running back Dwayne Washington, on the NFL’s reserve/COVID list and Saints coach Sean Payton thinks the move to sequester the franchise certainly contributed to limiting that number.

“I can only say I have to think it helped because, really, we came away from the preseason with only one positive COVID test,” Payton said.

The Saints moved players and personnel in to the Loew’s Hotel downtown in order to mimic the “bubbles” formed by other sports leagues like the NBA, WNBA and NHL. The Saints did not enact as strict rules as those leagues. Still Payton felt the move helped.

Through out training camp the Saints placed four players on the reserve/COVID list but three of those players were quickly reinstated following what Payton said were false positive results on tests.

“I think around the league teams have felt encouraged and yet the first thing I mentioned in our meeting today was ‘don’t fall asleep to it,’” Payton said. “I think all of us can adjust to one person or one coach gone. We have over the years. 

“What’s always the concern is that a group of eight or nine… that can really impact a game. So that was certainly something we addressed.”

The NFL and NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that only one player tested positive for COVID-19 through August 30– September 5.  Saints tackle Terron Armstead said Monday that he thought the steps taken by both the NFL and New Orleans were working well minimizing player exposure to the coronavirus.

"I think it's been a great job by the NFL with the procedures and protocols that they put in place. Great job by the home team, the way that the Saints have handled everything," Armstead said. "We're doing everything by the rulebook, everything by the codes to make sure everybody is as safe as possible. And it's been smooth."

Payton said the team is still using the hotel and will continue to do so for home games but said he isn’t sure how long they’ll continue to use it in the current manner.