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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

NFL’s first-ever flu outbreak hits the Patriots

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BOSTON — Patriots players struggled to focus on drills Friday after falling ill with an illness that, in at least two cases, may have been the result of the NFL’s only known known flu outbreak.

Multiple Patriots players were put in a mandatory quarantine Friday morning, which coach Bill Belichick later described as similar to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s quarantine at a San Francisco hospital last season. Belichick said the Patriots players were not required to spend the night in a hospital or any other kind of locked facility.

Asked whether there was any precedent for a team team being ordered to quarantine, Belichick said: “Well, there are a few. This was the first one, but there are others.”

The teams also canceled Friday’s afternoon walkthrough, in part because a mandatory minicamp in 2010 came with much of the same security precautions. In that case, the team was ordered to isolate players on game days, spending the week before a mandatory practices in the rooms of a handful of players who had reported lightheadedness and shortness of breath. The league then investigated the issue and determined they did not have any signs of dehydration or flu.

Multiple Patriots players came down with the common cold Thursday night, and others did not even return to their rooms for several hours after playing.

The Patriots’ sideline was a noticeable white on Friday, with a few players and coaches observing from the sidelines with a nurse’s office in the shade.

On Wednesday, the Patriots said they were monitoring their players for symptoms of flu. Several players had reported symptoms of “the flu,” according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

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