Giants limit access after false positive COVID-19 tests

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants limited access to their facility after the laboratory handling their COVID-19 testing had an unusually high number of false positive tests.

The Giants said several more players and coaches had false positives on Thursday, forcing the team to cancel in-facility morning meetings for players and to close their office to non-football staff.

Coach Joe Judge said some players and coaches were sent home and later brought back to the building for an afternoon walkthrough and practice when a second test was negative.

“It’s been a different type of day, we have flowed with it pretty well as an organization,” Judge said before practice, adding it was reminiscent of last season when the pandemic overshadowed the season at times.

Judge said all meetings were conducted virtually.

The Giants said Bio-Reference Laboratories, which handles testing for the league, is experiencing an unusually high number of false positives using the Rapid Mesa Test. With one exception, the team said, all the positive Mesa test results over the past two days have come back negative through PCR testing.

PCR is a molecular test that detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction.

The laboratory is working with experts to determine the source of the problem, the team said.

The NFL and the laboratory are monitoring the situation, the team said, adding it is temporarily halting the use of the Rapid Mesa Test and administering PCR tests only.

The Giants’ medical staff told Judge to be patient.

“We have told every player to be ready, to be focused and locked in and ready for this game,” said Judge. He has told his staff to have everybody ready to go on Sunday morning should more positive tests rule out players.

Judge said no player has been ruled out for the game. The person who will not be available is running backs coach Burton Burns, whose positive test return on Tuesday was confirmed.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Freddie Kitchens, the former Browns coach and the Giants senior offensive assistant, will work with the running backs this week along with offensive assistant Jody Wright.

The Giants went on alert Tuesday when 13 members of the organization tested positive after the team returned from a Monday night game against the Chiefs in Kansas City. The people who tested positive were retested and Burns was the only one who had a second positive test.

On Wednesday, the organization retested coaches, players, staff and front-office personnel, delaying practice more than 30 minutes.

Injured star running back Saquon Barkley, safety Xavier McKinney and left guard Matt Skura tested positive and were placed in the COVID-19 protocol and missed practice for Sunday’s game.

Barkley and McKinney had two positive rapid tests and they were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Skura’s second rapid test was negative and he was at practice Thursday.

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