Shortly before Saturday’s preseason match against the Houston Texans, the Dallas Cowboys sent Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn and Defensive Lineman Carlos Watkins home from the AT&T stadium due to Covid-19 protocol. On Monday, Wide Receiver CeeDee Lamb, Safety Malik Hooker, and Defensive Back Israel Mukuamu were added to the team’s Covid-19 protocol list. 

Thus far, the team is reporting that it is operating out of “an abundance of caution” in ensuring that a potential outbreak doesn’t happen. Lamb and Hooker are reported to be at least partially vaccinated, placing them in a less restrictive protocol than the process an unvaccinated player must complete to return to the team. 

Vaccinated players may return to team activities after receiving two negative tests in 24 hours. They also will not be subjected to isolation following exposure to a sick individual. Unvaccinated players must contend with the harsh 2020 protocols. Those players must be isolated for 10 days if they have a positive test. Exposure to an infected person will also require that unvaccinated players are quarantined for five days. 

By placing four players in Covid-protocol ahead of the next round of roster reductions, the Cowboys will only need to remove one name from the roster to meet the 80-man limit. Additional cuts will be necessary before any of the players may return to the field.  

The Houston Texans have been suffering with Covid-19 infections of their own. The team has placed at least four players on Covid protocol, including Safety Bradley Roby who returned to the field after missing nearly a week due to a positive test.  

The Dallas Cowboys participated in virtual meetings on Sunday and Monday with the plan of returning to the practice field on Tuesday. The team reported Saturday that 93% of the team is vaccinated and 100% of the staff. In July, the team was only at a vaccination rate of about 73%. 

Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the preseason loss Saturday that the team is complying with NFL and NFLPA rules relating to Covid testing. 

“We all understand the protocols and I addressed it in the locker room after the game,” McCarthy said. “We have everybody going through the proper testing both yesterday and today, and we’ll do so again tomorrow.” 

The North Texas region has seen a recent rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks amidst the rising spread of the delta variant. As recently as July 2021, Dallas County was seeing fewer than 400 cases per day. On August 20, the county released a single-day new and suspected case count of 1,529 people and reported 10 additional deaths. 

The region lags behind in vaccination rates compared to other counties. Dallas County reports a vaccination rate of 46% for all adults. The statewide average is 50% with some counties like Coppell and Sunnyvale reporting 76% vaccination rates for all adults.  

According to Dallas County, about 85% of new cases have been unvaccinated individuals. A total of 5,681 breakthrough cases have been recorded that include 179 hospitalizations and 22 people dead.