"If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it," Sean Payton said

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 19, 2020 06:16 PM
Sean Gardner/Getty

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced on Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first known person in the NFL to contract the disease.

Payton, 56, told ESPN that he fell ill this weekend and was screened for the virus, also known as COVID-19, on Monday.

“This is not just about social distancing,” Payton told the outlet after receiving his positive result on Thursday afternoon. “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,” he added. “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.”

Payton is now resting at home but is feeling fatigued, and said he is one of the few cases of coronavirus that did not show the common symptoms, such as a fever and cough.

“I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have,” he told ESPN. “I’m lucky.”

“Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can’t handle it,” he continued to the outlet. “So we all need to do our part. It’s important for every one of us to do our part.”

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Sean Payton

According to the CDC, because older adults are more at risk of suffering serious symptoms from coronavirus, they have been advised to stay indoors and avoid crowded places to reduce their exposure during the outbreak.

The first symptoms of coronavirus affect the upper respiratory system and present as coughing and sneezing, much like a cold. But as the illness progresses, symptoms will become more like the flu, and infected persons may experience a running fever, fatigue and body aches.

Payton urged others to do their part in fighting the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing.

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“There are hundreds of people right now in tough predicaments, fighting for their lives,” he said to ESPN. “Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem. We can easily help reduce the numbers of those impacted. We have to do our best to beat this and I know we can.”

Later on Thursday, Payton provided an update on his health to Twitter writing, “Appreciate the well wishes. I’m feeling better and fortunate to not have any of the respiratory symptoms. 4 more days at home. #BEATCovid.”

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Along with the tweet, Payton included a selfie on himself, which shows his dog lounging on a sofa in the background.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 233,000 people have been sickened by coronavirus worldwide, according to The New York Times. The United States has seen 10,822 cases and 172 deaths so far.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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