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Browns' COVID-19 outbreak gets worse ahead of first playoff game since 2002

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Browns COVID-19 outbreak continues to get just worse, and at the most crucial part of their season. The Browns announced today that head coach Kevin Stefanski and two other coaches and two players tested positive for COVID-19. The Browns' facility is currently closed while contract tracing continues to take place. The two players that tested positive are left guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge. Both players will be miss Sunday night's wild-card round game against the Steelers.

With Stefanski testing positive that means he won't be on the sidelines on Sunday for the Browns' first playoff game since 2002 either. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the acting head coach. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will take over play-calling duties with Stefanski out.

Cornerback Denzel Ward, linebacker Malcolm Smith, linebacker B.J. Goodson, free safety Andrew Sendejo, tight end Harrison Bryant, and cornerback Kevin Johnson are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the Browns and all were out this past Sunday against the Steelers. The Browns were also without offensive line coach Bill Callahan, assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters and wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Chad O’Shea on Sunday due to COVID-19 protocols.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Steelers-Browns playoff game remains on as scheduled for Sunday night. Pelissero also reports that the NFL's medical experts believe last week's Browns COVID cases were all from community spread, not a facility outbreak. Genomic sequencing showed three different strains of the virus. The Browns had no positive tests on Sunday or Monday and had five positives today which caused their facility to close.

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