Lightning close facilities after multiple players test positive for COVID-19

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Tampa Bay Lightning players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the team to temporarily close facilities to Phase 2 training, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie believes that three Lightning players and two staff members tested positive. McKenzie notes that facilities could re-open if remaining staffers and players don’t test positive.

Now, if more Lightning players or staff members test positive? Then we’ll need to wait and see.

As of this writing, the Lightning have not released a statement on the matter. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman backs up McKenzie’s report, though.

Florida ranks as one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19. It ranks among the states that have seen record spikes in positive cases lately. There are concerns that Florida could become the next epicenter for the spread of disease.

Consider this COVID-19 map from the CDC:

Lightning test positive COVID-19 Florida outbreaks CDC map
via the Center for Disease Control

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said that the state will not shut down despite these spikes.

“No, we’re not shutting down, you know, we’re going to go forward,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “You have to have society function.”

The Lightning aren’t the only sports team training in Florida to get hit by a COVID-19 outbreak, either. As Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra notes, five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staffers who were training in the Clearwater area tested positive for COVID-19.

Lightning release statement on players, staff testing positive for COVID-19

Again, McKenzie reports that the Lightning could reopen facilities for Phase 2 if others don’t test positive for COVID-19. Here’s hoping that at least the Lightning and NHL’s decision makers err on the side of caution, even if others seem more willing to roll the dice.

Later on Friday, the Lightning released a statement regarding players testing positive for COVID-19. The team confirmed that three players tested positive, but did not name specific ones. The Lightning didn’t clarify how many staff members tested positive.

Lightning GM Julien BriseBois announced that those players self-isolated and are “asymptomatic other than a few cases of low-grade fever.” (Somewhat strange, since there aren’t that many cases?)

Anyway, here’s the full statement:

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

OTHER NHL TEAMS HIT BY COVID-19:

Penguins player tested positive, now recovered
Multiple Avalanche players tested positive
Senators also dealt with outbreaks
Former NHL player Georges Laraque dealt with COVID-19

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.