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How the surge in COVID-19 cases unfolded in the sports world

Payton PritchardMary Schwalm/Associated Press

Look back at how the surge in COVID-19 cases unfolded in the sports world from mid-December to early January.

We’ll be tracking the latest news, including postponements, positive tests, and other adjustments. Click here to refresh.

NHL postpones Ducks-Red Wings — 5:03 p.m.

The NHL announced Thursday’s Ducks-Red Wings game has been postponed to Sunday because of COVID issues affecting the Ducks.

Justin Fields lands on COVID list — 2:30 p.m.

The Chicago Bears placed quarterback Justin Fields on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, likely sidelining him for the finale and ending his rookie season.

The Bears expected Fields to start at Minnesota on Sunday after missing the previous two games because of an ankle injury. That plan is now in doubt.


NCAA adopts CDC guidance — 2:22 p.m.

The NCAA has updated its recommended pandemic-related protocols for winter sports athletes and teams to follow the latest federal guidelines.

Anyone will be considered fully vaccinated within two months of receiving a Johnson & Johnson single dose, within five months of completing both Pfizer doses or within six months of completing the Moderna doses. Under the guidelines released Thursday, anyone beyond those timeframes will have needed to receive a booster to be considered fully vaccinated.

The NCAA is also recommending five days of quarantine after a positive test, which falls in line with recent guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NCAA’s membership do not have to follow the guidance, but many have already taken similar steps when it comes to quarantine and isolation protocols. A growing number of schools are looking at a return to online classes and mandatory boosters for students and staff; Michigan and other schools are also requiring proof of vaccination for fans who hope to attend games or other big events.

Boston City League plans to resume play Monday after COVID pause — 1:55 p.m.

Athletics in Boston Public Schools are set to resume next week, as originally projected when administrators decided to pause all athletic competitions and practices on Dec. 24 due to a rise in COVID cases.


In a statement, BPS Athletics wrote that multiple athletic programs in the Boston City League had gone on pause individually since the winter season began on Nov. 29.

The department said the league-wide pause would continue until at least Jan. 10 — and barring any major operational shifts with Boston Public Schools — practices will resume on Monday with games starting again on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Read more here.

Boston Pride’s weekend games postponed — 8:41 a.m.

The Boston Pride’s games on Saturday and Sunday against the Buffalo Beauts have been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols, the Premier Hockey Federation announced. A weekend series between Minnesota and Toronto has also been postponed for the same reason.

The league said both weekend series will be rescheduled.

Celtics’ Payton Pritchard enters protocols — 12:55 p.m.

Celtics guard Payton Pritchard was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Wednesday’s game against the Spurs at TD Garden. Boston does have Aaron Nesmith back from protocols.

Bruins place forward Tomas Nosek in COVID protocol —11:20 a.m.

The Bruins announced Wednesday that forward Tomas Nosek and a team staff member were placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon out for Sunday’s game against Browns — 10:46 a.m.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out for Sunday’s game against the Browns, according to ESPN.

Liverpool-Arsenal game postponed because of outbreak — 8:53 a.m.

Liverpool’s game against Arsenal in soccer’s English League Cup semifinals was postponed Wednesday following a COVID-19 outbreak in Liverpool’s squad that has forced the club to close its training center.

The first-leg match that was scheduled to take place at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Thursday will now be staged at Anfield on Jan. 13. The second leg will take place at the Emirates on Jan. 20.


Pepijn Lijnders, the coach who has been filling in for Jurgen Klopp while the Liverpool manager is in isolation, was one of “multiple players and staff” who tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest round of checks on Tuesday, the club said.

Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk enters protocol — 11:30 a.m.

The Bruins announced Tuedsay that forward Jake DeBrusk has entered COVID-19 protocol, along with three staffers.

DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman are the only two Bruins players currently in the protocol.

BC announces new vaccine requirements for on-campus games — 11:00 a.m.

Boston College will now require all fans 12 and over who attend basketball and ice hockey games at Conte Forum to be vaccinated.

Fans must have at least one dose by Jan. 15 and two doses by Feb. 15.

Children ages 5-11 must be have one dose of the vaccine by March 1.

Negative tests will no longer be sufficient for entry. The change in policy coincides with the City of Boston’s new vaccine mandate.

Novak Djokovic receives medical exemption for Australian Open — 8:15 a.m.

By The Associated Press

BRISBANE, Australia — Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player will get a chance to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne, ending months of uncertainty about his participation because of the strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements in place for the tournament.

The top-ranked Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday he has “an exemption permission” to travel to Australia.

Djokovic, who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.


Read the full story here.

Eagles put 12 on COVID-19 list after clinching playoff spot — 6:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles have placed defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and tight end Dallas Goedert along with 10 others on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday ahead of Saturday’s regular-season finale against Dallas.

The Eagles (9-7) already have a playoff berth clinched with only the seeding still to be decided Saturday night when they host the Cowboys (11-5) as either the sixth or seventh seed in the NFC. Under the NFL’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Eagles could get all 12 back before kickoff.

NHL postpones another game — 2:02 p.m.

The Ottawa Senators continue to battle COVID-19 issues. Another game — Thursday’s at Seattle — has been postponed, and the Senators will resume their schedule on Saturday at Vancouver.

Spectators barred from Olympic speedskating trials because of high rates around Milwaukee — 1:45 p.m.

By the Washington Post

No spectators will be able to watch a U.S. Olympic team trials event scheduled for this week, a change that comes as the hyper-contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation.

Ahead of U.S. speedskating long-track trials this week, Executive Director Randy Dean of the Pettit National Ice Center announced that spectators would not be allowed at the U.S. Olympic team trials event in Milwaukee. The decision was made by the US Speedskating board of directors after an emergency meeting and was “based upon early results from its testing of athletes and the high COVID infection rates in Milwaukee,” Dean said in an email to ticket holders Sunday. The event is scheduled for Wednesday-Sunday.


The change will affect only U.S. speedskating long-track trials, Kevin Butler, a spokesman for the Pettit Center, confirmed to The Washington Post. No other trials were planned for the center.

Will Djokovic play in the Australian Open? — 9:23 a.m.

By the Associated Press

While the “will he or won’t he?” question remains for No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his participation in the Australian Open, the rest of the tennis world returns to work this week to prepare for the season’s first major beginning Jan. 17 at Melbourne Park.

The top-ranked player has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against COVID-19, a requirement to play in Melbourne. But there has been speculation Djokovic could apply for a medical exemption to play as he eyes a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title. He is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20.

Djokovic withdrew from Serbia’s ATP Cup team last week.

The men’s ATP Cup team event has been on since the weekend in Sydney, and there are three tune-up events being played this week in Melbourne as part of Tennis Australia’s “Summer Set” of tournaments — two WTA tournaments and one ATP.

In Adelaide, there is a joint ATP and WTA tournament this week. Next week, both Adelaide and Sydney will hold joint ATP-WTA tournaments.

Djokovic is still nowhere to be seen.

Australian Open chief executive Craig Tiley says there is “quite a bit to play out” before nine-time champion Djokovic shows up to play in Australia.

“We’ve still got a few charter flights coming in until the end of this week and then all the players will be here,” Tiley said. “As far as the status relates to Novak, I think we’ll have a much clearer picture in the coming days otherwise it’s getting pretty late to show up and play the Australian Open. There’s quite a bit to play out and I think it will play out in the coming days.”

Coronavirus hampering German soccer clubs’ Bundesliga return — 8:46 a.m.

By the Associated Press

German clubs’ preparations for the Bundesliga’s resumption after the winter break are being hampered by coronavirus infections.

Defending champion Bayern Munich is among those worst affected, with Monday’s training session put back until the late afternoon so players and coaching staff can be tested upon their return.

The team’s return was already delayed by a day after the Bavarian club reported five COVID-19 infections – captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, players Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso and Omar Richards, as well as assistant coach Dino Toppmöller, all tested positive.

It’s unclear if the five are infected with the omicron variant and whether they will miss Bayern’s game against Borussia Mönchengladbach to resume the league on Friday. Neuer, who said he was suffering from light symptoms, will miss the match.

Gladbach is also affected after reporting four positive coronavirus infections – Joe Scally, Mamadou Doucouré, Denis Zakaria and Keanan Bennetts are all in quarantine.

“All four players are doing well,” Gladbach said.

Of the Bundesliga’s 18 clubs, 13 have reported coronavirus infections.

Lionel Messi among four PSG players to test positive — 3:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is among four players in the Paris Saint-Germain squad to have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the team’s French Cup game on Monday night.

PSG added that one staff member also had COVID-19 in a statement on Saturday night. None of them were named at that point, but in a further statement on the team’s medical news Sunday the club named Messi, left back Juan Bernat, backup goalie Sergio Rico, and 19-year-old midfielder Nathan Bitumazala.

Bruins place Karson Kuhlman in protocols — 8:30 p.m.

After the Bruins’ 4-3 win over the Sabres in overtime, they placed center Karson Kuhlman in COVID protocols. Kuhlman has just two points in 18 games this season. Oskar Steen was recalled to the team’s taxi squad from Providence.

Colts activate QB Carson Wentz from COVID-19 list — 3:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts activated quarterback Carson Wentz from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday and he should be able to start against Las Vegas on Sunday.

Wentz, who is unvaccinated, must have a negative test Sunday to be allowed to play under new protocols adopted by the NFL and the players’ union this week. He went on the COVID-19 list Tuesday and was required to isolate for five days.

Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander enters COVID protocols — 1:45 p.m.

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday, as Oklahoma City got rookie Josh Giddey back from the protocols. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 22.7 points and 5.2 assists this season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in isolation, will miss Chelsea game — 9:15 a.m.

By the Associated Press

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp will miss the Premier League match at Chelsea on Sunday after what the club called a suspected positive coronavirus test.

Klopp has mild symptoms and is now isolating, Liverpool said Saturday. Assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders will be on the touchline leading the team at Stamford Bridge but three other members of the backroom staff have also reported suspected COVID-19 infections.

Klopp announced Friday that three unnamed players had tested positive.

NHL announces eight more postponements over Canadian restrictions — 3:35 p.m.

The NHL announced eight more games in Canada would be postponed because of attendance restrictions in the country.

Jan. 3: Wild at Senators

Jan. 5: Islanders at Canucks

Jan. 8: Islanders at Oilers

Jan. 11: Islanders at Flames

Jan. 12: Wild at Oilers

Jan. 14: Golden Knights at Oilers

Jan. 15: Golden Knights at Flames

Jan. 16: Oilers at Jets

Trio of G League referees get NBA games amid virus issues — 2:49 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The virus outbreak hasn’t just sent NBA teams looking for help from the G League. The NBA refereeing corps has had to do the same.

A trio of G League officials — Tyler Mirkovich, Clare Aubry and Pat O’Connell — were assigned games on Friday, the NBA debuts for all three. It was the first time that the NBA had to call up G League officials to work games this season.

Mirkovich was assigned Phoenix at Boston, Aubry got Atlanta at Cleveland and O’Connell was picked for New York at Oklahoma City.

“I think the whole league is in a concerned place,” said Monty McCutchen, the former official who is now an NBA executive overseeing all referee matters. “We want our league to be healthy and we want the players to feel safe and healthy. We want coaches and staffs to feel health and safety is a priority and the same is true for referees.”

None of the three G League refs called up Friday has even worked an NBA preseason game.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins out for Sunday’s game against Packers — 10:52 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The Minnesota Vikings placed quarterback Kirk Cousins on the COVID-19 reserve list on Friday, two days before their most important game of the season at Green Bay.

Cousins is unvaccinated. Even if he’s asymptomatic, he wouldn’t be able to return in time to face the Packers. The NFL recently reduced the required quarantine period to five days.

The Vikings (7-8) are one game out of the last wild-card spot in the NFC with two weeks to go. The Packers (12-3) are in control of the top seed and a first-round bye.

The Vikings also activated backup quarterback Sean Mannion from the COVID-19 reserve list, putting the seventh-year veteran in line to start at frigid Lambeau Field on Sunday night. Mannion started one game for the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and one game for the Vikings in 2019, when Cousins was held out of the final regular-season game as a precaution prior to the playoffs.

Rookie Kellen Mond and recent addition Kyle Sloter are the other quarterbacks on Minnesota’s roster. When Mond tested positive in training camp, Cousins had to sit out five days as an unvaccinated close contact.

Jaguars are getting healthier — 9:30 a.m.

NHL postpones yet another game — 5:01 p.m.

The NHL announced Thursday that it was postponing Sunday’s Stars-Coyotes game due to COVID-19 issues among Arizona’s personnel.

Warriors-Nuggets postponed — 4:32 p.m.

The NBA has postponed the 11th game of the season — tonight’s matchup between the Warriors and the Nuggets.

Wellesley High pauses athletics — 9:13 a.m.

With the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases among its varsity athletes, Wellesley High has paused its athletic program indefinitely.

“This is certainly not something we wanted to do,” said John Brown, athletic director for the district.

“With the large number of positive cases that we have on all of our varsity teams in the last few days, and the fact that many of those teams were shut down already, the best thing that we could do was to take a pause and get student athletes healthy and try to keep them healthy.

“We hope that this is short and we can get back playing as soon as possible.”

The Boston Public Schools have shut down athletics until at least Jan. 10 because of a rise in COVID cases.

NCAA Tournament set to go on as scheduled —9:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are scheduled to go on as planned amid a rise in postponements and cancellations.

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told the NCAA Tournament was slated to go on in the normal format and there’s been no discussion of playing in a bubble like last season.

“We are certainly closely monitoring the unfortunate and sudden COVID spike and will consider any adjustments as necessary for the health, safety and success of the championships,” Gavitt said on Wednesday. “However, despite the current challenges we’re experiencing in college basketball, the solutions to these problems during this phase of the pandemic are likely quite different than the dramatic championship format changes we had to adopt last year.”

Patriots get Stevenson back — 5:15 p.m

By Jim McBride

The Patriots have already scored a victory this week as the club didn’t have to add any players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

The club did get a couple players back with running back Rhamondre Stevenson and linebacker Harvey Langi returning after bouts with the virus. Langi remains on injured reserve but can be activated at any time.

Read more here.

Boston College men’s basketball game vs. UNC moved to Sunday — 4:08 p.m.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that the Boston College / North Carolina game originally slated for Saturday will be moved to Sunday. Tipoff time and television network clearance still to be determined. BC is adhering to the conference’s COVID-19 protocols.

2022 World Junior Hockey championship canceled — 3:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The remainder of the world junior hockey championship in Canada has been canceled over fears of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The International Ice Hockey Federation made the announcement Wednesday on the recommendation of the organization’s medical officials. Citing the spread of the coronavirus and the omicron variant, the IIHF canceled the rest of the tournament “to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

Miami Heat forced to postpone game at San Antonio Spurs — 3:25 p.m.

The NBA announced Wednesday that the Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs game scheduled for tonight at AT&T Center has been postponed. The Heat do not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the game against the Spurs.

NHL cuts isolation time for players who test positive, but 10-day isolation remains in Canada — 12:33 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NHL is following other leagues and the CDC by cutting COVID-19 isolation times to five days under certain conditions and where it is allowed by local laws.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Wednesday confirmed the new protocols, which were first reported by Daily Faceoff.

The change only applies in the United States because of stricter pandemic regulations in Canada. Players, coaches and staff who test positive for the coronavirus can return after five days with a negative PCR test or two negative rapid test results taken more than two hours apart.

The 10-day isolation requirement remains in Canada. The NBA and NFL previously reduced to five days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance.

NFL cuts isolation time for players who test positive — 7:01 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The NFL is reducing isolation time for players who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, including unvaccinated players, to five days from 10.

The league and the NFL Players Association revised the protocols on Tuesday after the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic, recommending a five-day isolation period and masking over the second five days.

The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return for Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Read more here.

NHL facing complicated situation as US changes quarantine rules but Canada does not — 5:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Sixteen months after choosing Canada as the safest place to complete its season, the NHL now faces a series of hurdles north of the border that complicate its bid to power through the pandemic all over again.

The NFL and NBA can swiftly move to adopt shorter isolation periods for those who test positive for the coronavirus in accordance with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the two leagues also can consider not testing asymptomatic, vaccinated players.

The NHL with seven teams north of the border must balance stricter COVID-19 regulations set by Canadian federal and provincial authorities.

“We have always had the issue of differing rules in different jurisdictions, so it’s not a new challenge,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday, hours before play resumed after an extended holiday break. “(We are) navigating choppy waters the best we can.”

Holiday Bowl scrapped as UCLA pulls out hours before kickoff — 4:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Holiday Bowl became the fifth postseason college football game to be canceled when UCLA was forced to pull out just hours before Tuesday’s kickoff because of COVID-19 issues with the team.

The Bruins were scheduled to face No. 18 North Carolina State at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.

A surge in COVID-19 cases across the country has disrupted a second straight bowl season.

The Hawaii, Military, Fenway and Arizona bowls have already been canceled due to virus outbreaks leaving teams without enough available players. The Sun and Gator bowls have had to scramble to find replacement teams for their games.

ESPN has $400 million in advertising at risk this bowl season — 3:30 p.m.

By Bloomberg News

The spike in COVID-19 cases imperils as much as $400 million in college football playoff advertising for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports network because of the growing risk games may be canceled, Bloomberg Intelligence estimated in a note Tuesday.

Post-season college football brings in $350 million to $400 million annually for ESPN, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan estimated, citing Kantar Media. Revenue grew about 8% annually from 2013 to 2018.

The TV industry is also grappling with a loss of viewers to streaming services. Last year’s NCAA championship game saw audience ratings decline by 27%.

Representatives for ESPN didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kyrie Irving could soon make season debut — 2:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Kyrie Irving is a step closer to making his season debut.

The Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday that Irving, along with Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, have cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols — a major step toward getting them back on the court.

Irving has not played this season, largely because of his decision not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and the Nets initially not being willing to have the perennial All-Star with them on a part-time basis. Irving has not been eligible to play home games because of a local rule in New York requiring vaccinations, and he and the Nets decided earlier this month that having him back — even if only for road games — will allow the team “to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster.”

Durant hasn’t played since Dec. 16, but he has missed only three games so far because the Nets had three others postponed due to their virus issues. Aldridge has not played since Dec. 12, missing five games.

Read more here.

Atlantic 10 revises COVID forfeiture policy; UMass men’s and women’s basketball games postponed — 2:06 p.m.

The Atlantic 10, the conference that includes the men’s and women’s basketball teams of UMass and URI, has revised its COVID forfeiture policy. Games that cannot be played due to positive COVID-19 tests will be postponed and attempted to be rescheduled. If a suitable date cannot be found, the game will be declared a no contest.

The UMass men’s and women’s basketball teams had home games postponed. The men were scheduled to host Saint Louis on Thursday, and the women were preparing to host George Mason on Saturday. A date has not been set for either game.

The conference also revised a policy for requiring teams to complete conference games. The revision requires teams that have seven available scholarship student-athletes and one countable coach to compete in all conference contests. Teams may also participate with less than seven available student-athletes. If a team elects not to play, despite having seven scholarship student-athletes and one coach available, that team will incur a forfeit and be given a loss in the league standings, and the opposing team will be granted a forfeit win.

Wentz, Leonard, both unvaccinated, sidelined amid Colts’ playoff push — 1:30 p.m.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz has landed on the COVID-19 list amid a breakout in Indianapolis.

Wentz is unvaccinated. If he tested positive for the virus, he would need to miss at least 10 days. If he was just a close contact, it would be five days.

Indy has 15 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including star linebacker Darius Leonard and guard Quenton Nelson — both of whom are also unvaccinated.

The Colts, who at 9-6 are in the middle of a push for better playoff seeding, will face the Raiders this Sunday.

Team USA forfeits game in World Junior championship — 1:02 p.m.

Team USA has forfeited Tuesday’s preliminary round game against Switzerland in the 2022 World Junior championship following a positive test result of two of its players. The team’s quarantine status will be evaluated later to determine whether it will be able to compete in its next preliminary round game, scheduled for Wednesday against Sweden.

“We’re extremely disappointed, especially for our players,” said US National Junior Team general manager John Vanbiesbrouck in a statement. “We’re operating in an ever-changing landscape and that’s very challenging. We’ve followed the tournament protocol from the outset and will continue to do everything we can to ensure our players have the opportunity to compete at the World Junior Championship.”

CAA revises COVID forfeiture policy; Northeastern women’s basketball postpones two games — 1:00 p.m.

The Colonial Athletic Association, the conference that includes the Northeastern men’s and women’s basketball programs, announced a revised policy regarding games that are unable to be played due to the ongoing CoVID-19 pandemic.

If an institution has a minimum of seven available student-athletes and one countable coach, it must participate in the scheduled basketball contest. If an institution does not have the requisite number of participants, it may still elect at its own discretion to play the contest.

Any contest that cannot be played will initially be counted as a postponement. If a game is unable to be rescheduled, it would be counted as a forfeit for the purpose of the conference standings. If the postponed game is a result of both teams being unable to play, it would be counted as a tie in the conference standings. Cancelled games will not have an impact on a team’s overall NCAA record.

Northeastern’s women’s basketball games against Charleston on Friday and UNCW on Sunday have been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Northeastern program. The game between Northeastern and Charleston has been rescheduled for Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at Northeastern’s Cabot Center. The rescheduling of the Northeastern game vs. UNCW will be determined at a later time.

UNH-Dartmouth men’s basketball game postponed — 11:46 a.m.

The men’s basketball game scheduled for Wednesday between UNH at Dartmouth has been postponed because of COVID-19 concerns and safety protocols at Dartmouth College. No make-up date has been announced.

New rules for NBA isolation after CDC memo — 9:30 a.m.

By the Associated Press

NBA players who test positive for COVID-19 now have a quicker path to return to play, after the league completed a significant update to its health and safety protocols on Monday.

The biggest change: Isolation periods for players who test positive may now be significantly shortened — down to six days from what has been the customary 10 — provided those players are asymptomatic and meet other testing standards. Teams were told of the new protocols Monday in a memo sent by the league, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

That memo was sent on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days. CDC officials made that move saying that evidence shows people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

Read more here.

Bowl season in shambles as another one is canceled — 8:29 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The Arizona Bowl was canceled on Monday night after Boise State pulled out and shut down all team activities due to COVID-19 issues within the program.

The Broncos were scheduled to play Central Michigan at Arizona Stadium on Friday but instead joined numerous college basketball programs that have been hit with coronavirus issues coming out of the Christmas break.

“We feel for the young men in our program who were very much looking forward to closing out their season, and for some, their football careers,” Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey said Monday in a statement. “I would personally like to thank Kym Adair and her team at the Arizona Bowl for putting together a first-class student-athlete and fan experience that we are extremely disappointed to miss.”

Central Michigan will instead play Washington State in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, replacing Miami in a game that will be broadcast on CBS.

College basketball also will have a notably lighter schedule this week after the pandemic caused numerous games to get canceled or postponed.

Since Dec. 15, more than 120 men’s college basketball games and 100 women’s games have been canceled or postponed.

ACC shortens isolation period for asymptomatic athletes, which could give bowl season a boost — 11:23 p.m.

By The Washington Post

Following a change in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ACC on Monday announced two scenarios for shortening the isolation time for vaccinated athletes. Similar changes could be coming in other conferences and professional leagues, which would have a significant effect on player availability throughout sports amid the rise of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The ACC’s revised policy provides greater flexibility for those who test positive and must isolate. It came after three ACC teams announced Sunday that they were forced to withdraw from their bowl games because of covid-related complications.

At the same time, covid outbreaks are scuttling and scrambling men’s and women’s basketball games in multiple conferences. In pro sports, positive tests continue to roll in despite changes to testing protocols. The NHL is the lone league to pause its season so far - it’s slated to return Tuesday - but the NBA has dozens of players in its coronavirus protocols, and the NFL set a record Monday with 96 positive tests among its players.

NFL sees record number of one-day positives — 6:00 p.m.

NFL Network is reporting that 96 players tested positive Monday — a new high for the season — as 106 players were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Judon, Bentley land on COVID list — 5:50 p.m.

By Nicole Yang

The Patriots placed linebackers Matt Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after both tested positive Monday.

Judon and Bentley are now in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

The NFL has modified its health and safety protocols, making it easier for vaccinated players who are asymptomatic to return to action. Previously, such players had to test negative twice at least 24 hours apart. Now, they can potentially return sooner, depending on their “cycle threshold” value, a metric reflective of an individual’s viral load and contagiousness.

If Judon and Bentley are unvaccinated, they automatically will be sidelined for 10 days.

Read more here.

Jaguars place 11 players on COVID list — 4:01 p.m.

The Jaguars have placed 11 players on the reserve-COVID list, including former Patriots 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown, according to ESPN. The Jaguars are scheduled to face the Patriots Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Also placed on the list were tight ends Dan Arnold, Luke Farrell, and Chris Manhertz, linebackers K’Lavon Chaisson and Lerentee McCray, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, center Brandon Linder, left guard Andrew Norwell, defensive lineman Jihad Ward, and offensive lineman Jared Hocker (practice squad).

Worcester Railers’ Monday night game postponed — 3:00 p.m.

The ECHL game between the Reading Royals and Worcester Railers in Worcester scheduled for Monday has been postponed because of the league’s health and safety protocols.

Panthers send players home after 6 more positive COVID tests — 1:57 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers sent all of their players home from Bank of America Stadium after six more players tested positive for COVID-19 Monday.

That brings the total number of Carolina players on the COVID-19 reserve list to 13.

Defensive end Brian Burns, linebacker Shaq Thompson, defensive end Marquis Haynes, defensive tackle Phil Hoskins, center Matt Paradis, and defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon all tested positive Monday. Paradis and Nixon were already on injured reserve.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said the decision to send players home was made “to stem the tide” and get things under control. The team will conduct its meetings virtually until then, and Rhule is hoping to have players back in the building for practice on Wednesday.

— The Cincinnati Bengals placed backup quarterback Brandon Allen and already-injured cornerback/kick returner Darius Phillips on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

Allen has been the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Joe Burrow. The team will likely have to add a quarterback to the roster.

Cincinnati hosts Kansas City on Sunday.

— The Indianapolis Colts placed safety Jahleel Addae, cornerback T.J. Carrie, linebacker Malik Jefferson, running back Marlon Mack and tackle Braden Smith on the list. Smith has been a key member of the offensive line that has helped Jonathan Taylor lead the league in rushing.

Boston College-Florida State men’s basketball game postponed — 11:57 a.m.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Monday that the following men’s basketball games for Wednesday, Dec. 29, have been postponed: Florida State at Boston College, Duke at Clemson, and Virginia Tech at North Carolina.

BC, Duke and Virginia Tech are adhering to the league’s COVID protocols.

Jayson Tatum enters COVID-19 protocols — 10:42 a.m.

The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced Monday morning.

Tatum battled the virus in January. He was out for nearly three weeks. After returning to the court, he said he began using an inhaler to help deal with breathing issues.

Read more here.

Positive test sidelines ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin — 8:48 a.m.

Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin is the latest elite skier to test positive for COVID-19 with the Beijing Games less than six weeks away.

“I wanted to let you all know that I’m doing well, but unfortunately I had a positive COVID test,” the American wrote on her social media accounts Monday. “I’m following protocol and isolating.”

Shiffrin said she will miss World Cup giant slalom and slalom races scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Lienz, Austria, adding, “I’ll see you in the new year.”

Missing the races in Lienz is a big hit to Shiffrin’s chances of regaining the overall World Cup title. She leads Italy’s Sofia Goggia by 115 points in the standings but needs to maintain a high level of points in the technical disciplines of giant slalom and slalom since Goggia has been virtually unbeatable in the speed events of downhill and super-G.

Wednesday’s Bruins game postponed — 8:30 p.m.

By Kevin Paul Dupont

Back on the ice Sunday for their first practice in 11 days, the Bruins set their immediate focus on the prospect of finally returning to game action Wednesday night in Ottawa. But Sunday night the NHL postponed three additional games for COVID-related reasons, including the Bruins-Senators game, as well as Columbus at Chicago on Tuesday night and Pittsburgh at Toronto on Wednesday night.

The Senators game became the sixth consecutive game the Black and Gold must postpone here amid the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and the havoc it has caused with the NHL’s schedule.

Meanwhile, left winger Brad Marchand made clear that he believes it’s time for the league to relax its COVID testing standards, to something more aligned with the NBA and NFL models, in an effort aimed at inching the NHL back toward a semblance of regular programming.

“At some point, we’ve kind of got to get back to normal,” he said, giving further voice to a sentiment expressed just prior to Christmas by team president Cam Neely. “Other leagues have gone to testing if you have symptoms. Otherwise, if you are asymptomatic, you just kind of go about your day. We definitely have to get to that.”

Read more here.

At least 111 NBA players in COVID protocols as expanded testing begins — 5:23 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Here’s what the Orlando Magic injury report looked like on Sunday: Six players out because of virus-related problems, another sidelined while he completes the process of getting cleared from a protocols stint, and another six players out with injuries.

Yes, that’s 13 players — from one team.

“You expect the unexpected,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said.

Such is the norm around the NBA right now, after yet another day of adding more names to the health and safety protocols list. By late afternoon Sunday, the official number of players disclosed by teams as being in the protocols was up to 111 — the real number, considering some teams had yet to update injury reports, was believed to be slightly higher. And some teams were stuck simply trying to piece rosters together just to try and play.

Golden State’s Draymond Green was the latest big name added to the protocols list on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Warriors beat Phoenix in what was the best game on the league’s five-game Christmas lineup and probably one of the more anticipated games so far this season.

The numbers may continue to rise, now that the league’s expanded testing for players who have not received booster shots started on Sunday and will continue into early January.

“This is the reality of this association right now,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Saban expects Marrone, O’Brien back for Alabama’s playoff game — 4:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Top-ranked Alabama arrived Sunday in North Texas without offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien or offensive line coach Doug Marrone, but coach Nick Saban expected both assistants to make it for the playoff semifinal game at the Cotton Bowl. He said there were no known COVID-19 issues among players.

The Crimson Tide said last Wednesday that O’Brien and Marrone had tested positive for the coronavirus and were isolating with mild symptoms.

Saban said Sunday that both coaches were doing well back in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and would participate in meetings and practice via Zoom until they could join the team before Friday’s game against Cincinnati.

“They will do all their work and coaching virtually with players, very similarly to the way I did it when I tested positive before the Auburn game a year ago,” Saban said. “They’ll be here for the game. ... No one is, you know, really that bad sick that they can’t function and do things that they need to do with our players.”

NHL to bring back taxi squads — 3:45 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NHL will emerge from an extended holiday break with taxi squads and other roster revisions to guard against more disruptions to the season.

Each team will be allowed to have a taxi squad of up to six players and to make emergency recalls from the minors if COVID-19 absences would cause anyone to play without a full lineup. Taxi squads, which were used during the shortened 2021 season, are set to be in effect until at least the All-Star break in early February.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the new roster rules in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday. They were first reported by Sportsnet.

Under the new provisions, any team shy of having 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders available can bring up a player from the American Hockey League without playing a game with fewer than the usual 18 skaters. Emergency recalls also can be made of players with salary-cap hits of up to $1 million, an increase from the previous $850,000 limit.

Players on the taxi squad will count as being in the minors for cap purposes. They can be there for a maximum of 20 days.

Bruins’ Charlie Coyle enters COVID protocols — 3:30 p.m.

The Bruins announced Sunday that forward Charlie Coyle has been placed in the COVID-19 protocol. The Bruins were shut down by the NHL on Dec. 18, before the entire league shut down on Dec 21. Boston is scheduled to return to the ice against Ottawa on Wednesday.

Boston College football season ends as Military Bowl canceled — 11:15 a.m.

The Military Bowl between Boston College and East Carolina has been canceled, the Globe confirmed, bringing the Eagles’ season to a premature end.

BC was set to take on the Pirates in Annapolis on Monday afternoon. The game was nixed early Sunday due to COVID-19 issues within BC’s program.

Yahoo Sports is reporting that BC has more than 40 players sidelined due to the virus.

Read more here.

Fenway Bowl canceled for second straight year — 11:00 a.m.

The Fenway Bowl, which was set to feature the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers and the AAC’s SMU Mustangs, will not be played as scheduled on Wednesday due to COVID-19 issues within the Virginia program.

Read more here.

It is the second straight year the bowl game, which has never been played, has been canceled due to the virus. Virginia canceled its flight to Boston on Sunday morning as the team awaits another round of COVID-19 tests, according to Brett McMurphy.

Patriots activate WR Kendrick Bourne from Reserve/COVID-19 list — 4:45 p.m.

The Patriots activated wide receiver Kendrick Bourne from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday afternoon, which means he will be available to play Sunday against the Bills.

The team also placed defensive end Deatrich Wise on the COVID list, which means he will miss Sunday’s game. Wise has been on the field for 51 percent of the defensive snaps this season, registering three sacks and 36 tackles.

Dennis Schröder enters COVID protocols — 12:45 p.m.

Celtics guard Dennis Schröder entered COVID protocols on Saturday, hours before Boston was set to tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The team also announced that it was signing Al-Farouq Aminu and Norvel Pelle to 10-day contracts.

Kendrick Bourne hints at return from Reserve/COVID-19 list — 12:00 p.m.

Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne could be back for Sunday’s game against the Bills after tweeting Saturday that he’d “[Just] got the best Christmas news ever.”

Bourne’s inclusion for Sunday would be a big boost for the Patriots, already a bit short at wideout.

Giannis Antetokounmpo reportedly cleared from protocols — 1:21 p.m.

According to ESPN, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been cleared from the league’s COVID protocols and will decide before Saturday’s Christmas game vs. the Celtics if he is ready to play.

The Celtics-Bucks game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday on ABC, part of the NBA’s five-game Christmas Day showcase.

Another Buffalo receiver on COVID list — 12:51 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills added receiver Gabriel Davis and offensive lineman Cody Ford to the COVID-19 reserve list on Friday, two days before their highly anticipated rematch with the Patriots in Foxborough.

Davis has 29 receptions for 409 yards and six touchdowns this season. Bills receiver Cole Beasley was added to the list on Wednesday and both will miss Sunday’s game, the second meeting in three weeks of the top two teams in the AFC East. The Patriots won the first game, 14-10, on Dec. 6.

Boston Public Schools put sports activities on pause — 11:11 a.m.

With COVID cases on the rise throughout the district, Boston Public Schools paused all athletics games and practices through Monday, Jan. 10 or potentially longer.

In a statement, the BPS athletic department said multiple programs have gone on pause since the winter season started on Nov. 29. Most of the decisions to pause have happened over the past 7 to 10 days in concurrence with a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the city of Boston.

Read the full story here.

Hawaii Bowl canceled on eve of game after Hawaii pulls out — 10:50 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Hawaii Bowl was canceled Thursday on the eve of the game after Hawaii withdrew because of COVID-19, season-ending injuries and transfers.

“We are disappointed our season has to end this way,” Hawaii coach Todd Graham said in a statement. “As competitive as we are and as much as we want to play the game, we cannot put the health and safety of our student-athletes at risk.”

The game was scheduled for Friday at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex.

Browns’ Tretter, Saints QBs test positive for COVID-19 — 5:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Both Saints veteran quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, Minnesota star running back Dalvin Cook and Cleveland center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

But Washington is getting back quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

Hill and Siemian were among nine players for New Orleans placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The others include such key players as safety Malcolm Jenkins and tackle Jordan Mills, who is expected to start Monday night against Miami.

The situation left Ian Book, a rookie out of Notre Dame who has been inactive for all 14 games, as the only active quarterback under contract. It appears Book is in line for his maiden NFL regular-season appearance. Running back Alvin Kamara has been the Saints’ emergency quarterback for several seasons and conceivably could take direct snaps as a wildcat threat.

NBA, NBPA nearing agreement to lessen quarantine period — 2:23 p.m.

The NBA is nearing an agreement with the NBPA to lessen the quarantine period for Covid-positive players, according to ESPN. In some testing cases, the current 10-day quarantine protocol could be shortened to clear players for return.

SEC, Big East alter basketball policies as COVID cases spike — 2:22 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Southeastern and Big East conferences have updated their policies for basketball game postponements, cancellations and rescheduling to provide more leniency for teams that are unable to play because of spiking COVID-19 cases.

The policies for both conferences establish that men’s and women’s teams will be required to play if seven scholarship athletes and one countable coaching staff member are available. The SEC gives teams the option to play with fewer players or coaches if they choose.

If a team can’t play, both leagues say the game will be rescheduled or declared a no contest. The policies announced Thursday are a revision of previous procedures, which called for a game to be forfeited and a loss given to any team unable to play.

Four Big East men’s games were already designated as forfeits under the league’s previous policy, but the forfeiture classification will be removed from those games and the league will try to reschedule them. On Thursday, the Butler-St. John’s game was canceled because of COVID issues in St. John’s program with the hope that it can be rescheduled.

NFLPA president JC Tretter tests positive for COVID-19 — 12:11 p.m.

NFLPA president JC Tretter has tested positive for COVID-19. The center for the Cleveland Browns made the announcement on Twitter.

Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom has entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols — 11:32 a.m.

Enes Kanter Freedom has entered COVID-19 protocols, the Celtics center confirmed on Twitter. He becomes the eighth Celtic to enter protocols.

Nets say they have enough players, set to play on Christmas — 11:00 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets have enough players to fly to Los Angeles and play their Christmas showdown against the Lakers, though Kevin Durant might not be among them.

Coach Steve Nash said Thursday that James Harden has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but he said the Nets don’t expect any of their players still in the protocols to come out in time for the game. That would include Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer.

The Nets have had their last three scheduled games postponed — among the NBA’s nine postponements thus far — when a coronavirus outbreak left them with a league-high 10 players in protocols. Nash said Harden, Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter had also cleared protocols, though rookies Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. had since entered.

Teams need a minimum of eight players to start a game. Nash said the Nets have more than enough to do that.

Alabama assistant coaches Bill O’Brien and Doug Marrone test positive for COVID-19 — 9:31 a.m.

By the Associated Press

Alabama announced offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone had tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating with mild symptoms.

No. 1 Alabama is scheduled to face No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier this week, Alabama coach Nick Saban said more than 90% of his team was vaccinated with a booster shot, and players were being allowed to go home for a few days before the defending national champion Tide traveled to Dallas on Dec. 26.

Two more Premier League games off due to COVID outbreaks — 7:23 a.m.

By the Associated Press

Coronavirus outbreaks at Leeds and Watford have led to two Premier League matches scheduled for Sunday being postponed.

Leeds was due to travel to Liverpool and Watford was set to play at Wolverhampton as part of the Boxing Day program.

The Premier League has now called off 12 matches due to coronavirus issues in two weeks.

The Leeds training ground has been closed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, with five new positive cases among the squad and staff reported on Thursday.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain, where the omicron variant is now dominant, have surged by almost 60% in a week.

In Italy, Serie B postponed matches scheduled for Dec. 26 and 29 following a series of positive cases that resulted in two matches being postponed in the previous round. The second division will resume Jan. 13.

Luka Doncic in NBA protocols; league postpones two more games — 6:16 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Dallas star Luka Doncic entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday, adding his name to the list of top players who might be sidelined for games on Christmas because of coronavirus-related concerns.

That news came not long after the NBA called off the next game for both the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets because of COVID-19 issues, after determining that neither team has the minimum eight players necessary to start a contest.

Cole Beasley posts defiant response on Instagram — 2:35 p.m.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley took to Instagram to respond to the news that he has been placed on the COVID-IR ahead of Sunday’s AFC East showdown against the Patriots.

“Just to be clear COVID is not keeping me out of this game. The rules are,” the statement began. “Vaxxed players are playing with COVID every week now because they don’t test. One of my vaxxed teammates is in the hospital missing games. I’m sure he didn’t get this same energy. Thank you for those who support. Everyone else, if you don’t get what’s happening then there is nothing anybody can do for you.”

No makeups for College Football Playoff semifinals if team can’t play due to virus — 2:12 p.m.

By the Associated Press

If a team is unavailable to play in College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31 because of COVID-19 issues, the game will be forfeited and the available team will advance to the championship game.

The CFP announced Wednesday contingency plans for the semifinals and national championship game, which is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

No. 1 Alabama is scheduled to face No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl in one New Year’s Eve semifinal and No. 2 Michigan is set to play No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl in the nightcap of the CFP doubleheader.

While there will be no rescheduling of either semifinal, the championship game could be delayed until as late as Jan. 14.

If a team cannot play in the title game, the available team will be declared national champion. If neither team has enough available players to play by Jan. 14, the championship will be considered vacated.

For the semifinals, if both teams scheduled to play each other are unavailable, that game shall be declared a no contest and the winner of the the other semifinal will be declared national champion.

If three semifinal teams are unavailable to play on Dec. 31, the team that is able to play will be declared national champion.

Texas A&M withdraws from bowl game, doesn’t have enough players — 1:31 p.m.

Texas A&M will not be able to play in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest because it does not have enough available players.

The game is scheduled to be played on Dec. 31.

Bowl organizers said they will seek a new opponent over the next two days.

ACC updates forfeit policy, BC no longer has forfeit on record — 1:17 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Atlantic Coast Conference is changing its rescheduling policy to avoid assigning forfeits for teams unable to play due to COVID-19 protocols.

League athletics directors unanimously supported the change announced Wednesday. The decision comes amid the rise in COVID-19 cases and the increase in cancellations and postponements of basketball games nationally.

Games that cannot be played will be rescheduled if possible. If those games can’t be rescheduled, they will be considered a “no contest” that doesn’t affect a team’s record. The change is retroactive dating to the beginning of the winter-sports schedule, meaning it will remove recent forfeits for the Boston College men’s basketball team against Wake Forest and the Miami women’s basketball team against Duke.

Additionally, men’s and women’s teams must have a minimum of seven available players and one coach to play a game. If a team elects not to play despite having that available number, the game would then be considered a forfeit.

Jets’ Robert Saleh tests positive for COVID-19 — 12:15 p.m.

By the Associated Press

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the latest in what has been a surge of coronavirus cases on the team.

Tight ends coach Ron Middleton will coach the team at practice in Saleh’s absence. Saleh could return as soon as Thursday if he no longer shows symptoms and tests negative.

If Saleh doesn’t test out of the COVID-19 protocols before Sunday, Middleton will also serve as the head coach in New York’s game against Jacksonville.

The Jets have 14 players from the active and practice squad rosters, including injured reserve, on the COVID-19 list: wide receivers Elijah Moore, Jeff Smith and Vyncint Smith; guard Alijah Vera-Tucker; defensive linemen Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers and Tanzel Smart; linebackers Blake Cashman, Noah Dawkins and Hamsah Nasirildeen; cornerbacks Michael Carter II and Lamar Jackson; safety Sharrod Neasman; and special teams ace Justin Hardee.

On Monday, the first day under the NFL’s revised protocols, 47 players were placed on the COVID-19 list, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. Another 21 NFL players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

Raptors-Bulls tonight postponed — 11:34 a.m.

ESPN is reporting that tonight’s Bulls-Raptors game is postponed. The Raptors have eight players in health and safety protocols.

NBA postpones Thursday’s Nets-Trail Blazers game — 9:59 a.m.

The Nets will not have the minimum eight players required on Thursday night, prompting their game against the Trail Blazers to be postponed, the NBA announced Wednesday.

Adam Silver says NBA doesn’t plan to pause season — 8:00 a.m.

By the Associated Press

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday there are no plans to pause the season, even as numbers of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus continues to rise.

Silver, in an interview with ESPN, said the league has examined multiple options but does not yet see a reason to stop play. Through early Tuesday evening, at least 84 players from 20 teams — not including some coaches and staffers — were believed to be in the protocols, though those numbers tend to change almost on an hourly basis. The count is largely based on what teams have disclosed on their most recent injury report.

“Frankly, we’re having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now,’’ Silver said. “As we look through these cases literally ripping through the country right now, putting aside the rest of the world, I think we’re finding ourselves where we sort of knew we were going to get to for the past several months — and that is that this virus will not be eradicated and we’re going to have to learn to live with it. That’s what we’re experiencing in the league right now.”

Read more here.

NHL pulling out of Olympics, per reports — 5:00 p.m.

By Matt Porter

The NHL and NHL Players Association agreed that their players will not participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.

After pulling out of the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, the NHL was set to make its grand return in Beijing. Last summer, the league and union collectively bargained to participate in the 2022 and ‘26 Games, with an out clause for 2022 if this NHL season was impacted by COVID-19.

Read more here.

Cole Beasley lands on COVID-IR — 4:16 p.m.

Cole Beasley, who caught blowback earlier this year when he said he was not vaccinated and questioned the efficacy of vaccines, has landed on the COVID-IR ahead of Sunday’s AFC East showdown against the Patriots.

Beasley tested positive, according to multiple outlets. That means he will miss at least 10 days.

90% of NBA cases are Omicron, Adam Silver says — 3:20 p.m.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN Tuesday that of the NBA cases that have been sequenced, about 90% of them have been the Omicron variant.

But Silver said there are “no plans right now to pause the season.”

Chiefs’ COVID list grows with Tyreek Hill, Rashad Fenton — 3:15 p.m.

ESPN reports that the Chiefs have placed three more players — WR Tyreek Hill, CB Rashad Fenton, and TE Blake Bell — on the COVID IR.

That follows Monday’s news that Travis Kelce, along with kicker Harrison Butker and CB Charvarius Ward, were sidelined.

NBA tells teams to prepare for Christmas day flex — 3:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The 10 NBA teams with games scheduled on Christmas were told by the league Tuesday that shifting some game times is a possibility for the planned five-game slate if virus-related issues force changes to the lineup.

The league told the teams the priority is filling the ABC windows for Saturday’s games, which means the slots at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern. For now, those games, in order, would have Boston at Milwaukee, Golden State at Phoenix and Brooklyn at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The other games on the Christmas schedule are Atlanta at New York at noon, and Dallas at Utah at 10:30 p.m. Both of those games are scheduled to be shown on ESPN.

The league called the notion of shifting game times — which may happen if a game is postponed — a contingency plan in the memo distributed to the teams involved and obtained by The Associated Press. Decisions on whether shifting times is needed could come as late as Friday. Any decisions made on Saturday to postpone a Christmas game would not impact the remainder of the day’s schedule, the league said.

Read more here.

Providence Bruins postpone games — 1:05 p.m.

The Providence Bruins are not dealing with COVID issues, but their opponents are, prompting two postponements this week.

Wednesday’s game at the Syracuse Crunch and a Dec. 28 game against the Toronto Marlies have been pushed, with makeup dates not announced.

NHL postpones tonight’s Capitals-Flyers game, marking 50th of season — 12:20 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Washington Capitals-Philadelphia Flyers game scheduled for Monday night has been postponed.

It’s the 50th NHL game postponed this season for coronavirus-related reasons. The league said COVID-19 issues with the Capitals prompted the postponement.

That left the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Vegas Golden Knights as the only game left in the NHL this week. The league and players’ association agreed to begin the annual holiday break early and push off the games that were scheduled for Thursday.

Of the 50 games postponed, 45 have occurred over the past two weeks with the delta and omicron variants spreading across North America. More than 15% of the league’s 700-plus players are in virus protocol, a list that continues to grow.

Holy Cross men’s basketball game vs. St. Joe’s canceled — 11:40 a.m.

Wednesday’s Holy Cross men’s basketball game at St. Joseph’s has been canceled due to issues within the Hawks’ program.

The Crusaders’ next game will be Jan. 1 against Navy in Worcester.

Providence men’s basketball game vs. Georgetown canceled — 11:30 a.m.

The Big East announced that due to COVID related issues in the Georgetown men’s basketball program, the Providence-Georgetown game scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday has been canceled. Georgetown has forfeited the game and a loss will be assigned in the conference standings. Providence will be assigned a win.

Boston College at Wake Forest men’s basketball game canceled — 11:02 a.m.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that the Boston College at Wake Forest men’s basketball game scheduled for Wednesday has been canceled. Because BC is in COVID protocols, the game will be deemed a forfeit following the ACC’s rescheduling policy. BC receives a loss, and Wake Forest recieves a win.

Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo placed in COVID-19 protocol — 9:50 a.m.

The Bruins placed defenseman Brandon Carlo into COVID-19 protocol. Carlo will likely not be eligible to return by Dec. 27, unless he tests out of the protocol.

That brings the total to 10 players and two staffers in protocol — an outbreak that prompted the NHL to pause the organization and shut down facilities through the holiday break.

Could NFL’s testing reduction lead the way for other leagues? — 9:30 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The NFL’s decision to reduce COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic, vaccinated players could signal a trend for pro sports leagues and provide an example for society to follow heading into 2022.

Despite a rising number of positive cases that forced three games to be rescheduled over the weekend, the NFL, in cooperation with the players’ union, agreed on Saturday to scale back testing for vaccinated players. The move aligns with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends “diagnostic testing” only for symptomatic or close-contact vaccinated people, and “screening tests” only for unvaccinated people.

The NFL previously required vaccinated players to get tested weekly before amending the protocols. The NFLPA had advocated for daily testing for vaccinated players but eventually agreed to “target” testing.

The NBA didn’t require vaccinated players to get tested during the season but revised its policy to increase testing for a two-week period starting Dec. 26.

The NHL tested players every third day but returned to daily testing through at least Jan. 7.

“I think the NFL is actually going to be a really interesting and I think really safe real-world experiment on what our new normal is likely going to look like,” Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and professor at the University of Washington, said in an interview with the AP. “And, it’s safe to say that the NFL is obviously a large vaccine bubble, sans a few high-profile exceptions.

“We can’t continue the status quo, ad infinitum, where we are testing regularly people that are otherwise healthy, asymptomatic, triple-vaccinated, just to detect the asymptomatic individual who might be positive ... because then you’re going to quarantine that individual who might be asymptomatic or having mild symptoms, who is triple-vaccinated, who might for a small period of time, be infectious to others who presumably are also vaccinated.”

NHL will shut down from Dec. 22-25 — 9:05 p.m.

The NHL is beginning a leaguewide shutdown Wednesday amid a rise in positive COVID-19 test results among players, and with 10 of the league’s 32 teams’ schedules already paused and their facilities closed.

The league announced Monday night that it will open its annual holiday break two days earlier than scheduled and have it run through Saturday. The decision, reached in coordination with the NHL Players’ Association, means five additional games scheduled for Thursday will be postponed, bringing the total this season to 49.

Two games slated for Tuesday are still set to go on as scheduled. Teams will then report back for COVID-19 testing and practice on Sunday, a day before games are set to resume. Players and members of each team’s traveling party will be required to test negative before being allowed back in their respective facilities.

Read more here.

Kendrick Bourne on COVID list — 6:00 p.m.

A total of 47 players across the NFL were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19, the highest single-day total for the league. All tested positive.

The Patriots placed wide receiver Kendrick Bourne on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday evening, along with linebackers Harvey Langi, Cameron McGrone, and Ronnie Perkins.

Langi and Perkins are both on injured reserve, while McGrone has yet to be activated to the 53-man roster after starting training camp on the non-football injury list. Bourne’s availability for Sunday’s rematch with the Bills, however, is now in question.

After Nelson Agholor was ruled out of Saturday’s loss to the Colts with a head injury and N’Keal Harry had to be helped off the field following a helmet-to-helmet hit while trying to make a catch late in the fourth quarter, the Patriots could be extremely shorthanded at wide receiver.

Read more here.

Stefanski out for Browns tonight — 2:30 p.m.

With both Baker Mayfield and his backup, Case Keenum, out, third-stringer Nick Mullens will start for the Browns against the Raiders last night.

Cleveland was hit hard by a slew of positive tests last week and will be without coach Kevin Stefanski and up to 12 regulars for an important game.

The Browns had hoped the NFL’s decision to postpone the game from Saturday until Monday would allow Mayfield and other sidelined players to return. However, Mayfield didn’t produce a required negative test and safety John Johnson III was the only starter activated in the hours before Monday’s kickoff.

Cleveland has 22 players, including nine starters and several key backups, on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Celtics exempted from Boston’s vax mandate for indoor venues — 2:28 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

Pro sports teams will be exempt from Boston’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor venues that is set to kick in on Jan. 15.

On Monday, Mayor Michelle Wu unveiled a detailed plan that will require patrons 12 and over to show proof of vaccination before entering the premises of many indoor businesses, including entertainment venues.

But there is an exemption for “a professional athlete/sports team who enters a covered premises as part of their regular employment for purposes of competing.” This will apply to Celtics and Bruins players, as well as visiting teams that come to TD Garden.

Read more here.

USA-Canada women’s hockey game canceled — 2:05 p.m.

USA Hockey announced that Monday night’s game with Canada has been canceled because of concerns around COVID-19. The game was scheduled to be played at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.

UMass-NJIT men’s basketball canceled — 12:30 p.m.

UMass announced that its men’s basketball game against NJIT, scheduled for Wednesday, was canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests within the NJIT program.

The Minutemen open conference play against Saint Louis on Dec. 30 at home.

NHL shuts down Blue Jackets, Canadiens — 11:58 a.m.

The NHL announced Monday that the Blue Jackets and Canadiens will shut down until at least the end of the league’s holiday break on Dec. 26. Both teams are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, and both will have two games scheduled for this week postponed.

Baker Mayfield out for Monday’s Browns-Raiders game — 10:51 a.m.

By the Associated Press

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield did not clear COVID-19 testing in time to be activated and play Monday, so third-stringer Nick Mullens will start in a critical game against the Las Vegas Raiders, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The Browns had hoped the NFL’s decision to postpone the game from Saturday until Monday would allow players to return. But Mayfield didn’t produce a required negative test, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team doesn’t have to reveal its eligible players until later in the day.

Mayfield had missed only one game this season despite a variety of injuries. He’ll now have to sit out as the Browns (7-6) try to stay in the thick of a tight playoff race. A win over the Raiders would put Cleveland in first place in the AFC North.

On Sunday, Mayfield posted on Instagram that he was asymptomatic and was “praying to test negative for COVID.”

Northeastern-St. Bonaventure men’s basketball off — 10:08 a.m.

Northeastern announced Monday that its men’s basketball game against St. Bonaventure scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled due to positive COVID-19 test results within the Northeastern program and it will not be rescheduled. It was the second game called off following the cancellation of Sunday’s matchup with Vermont.

Northeastern’s next game is scheduled for Dec. 29 at Elon.

Northeastern announced last week that it would not allow spectators at its sports events beginning Sunday.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal tests positive — 8:20 a.m.

Rafael Nadal said he is “having some unpleasant moments” after testing positive for the coronavirus after playing in an exhibition tournament last week in Abu Dhabi, a diagnosis that complicates the tennis champion’s return to the sport from a nagging foot injury.

A PCR test delivered the result when Nadal returned home to his native Spain, he announced on social media Monday, and the news further muddles his plans for a comeback from injury by playing in the Australian Open, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 17 in Melbourne.

“I am having some unpleasant moments, but I hope that I will improve little by little. I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me,” he said, according to a Google translation of the tweets he posted in Spanish.

“As a consequence of the situation, I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyze my options depending on my evolution. I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments! Thank you all in advance for your support and understanding.”

Nadal, the world’s sixth-ranked player, added that he had “passed controls every two days [during the tournament] and all were negative, the last being on Friday and having the results on Saturday.”

NBA postpones five more games Sunday — 6:46 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NBA on Sunday postponed a total of five games involving nine teams in response to rising coronavirus numbers, raising the number of contests that have been pushed back this season to seven.

Called off were three Sunday games: Cleveland at Atlanta, Denver at Brooklyn and New Orleans at Philadelphia. Also shelved were Orlando’s game at Toronto on Monday and Washington’s game at Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The postponements came on the same day that Atlanta announced star guard Trae Young entered the league’s health and safety protocols and the Los Angeles Lakers said coach Frank Vogel also was added to the list.

Read more here.

After his best game of the season, Celtics’ Josh Richardson is back in COVID-19 protocols — 5:16 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

On Saturday night, after erupting for a season-high 27 points in the Celtics’ 114-107 win over the Knicks, guard Josh Richardson talked about how glad he was to be back after missing two games recently because of a positive COVID-19 test.

But that return was ultimately fleeting. On Sunday night, the Celtics announced Richardson was reentering COVID-19 protocols and would miss Monday’s game against the 76ers, along with the other six players who tested positive this week: Al Horford, Grant Williams, Juancho Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, Sam Hauser, and Brodric Thomas.

Read more here.

NHL has seven teams shut down — 5:13 p.m.

The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs were added to the list of teams told to shut down operations, joining the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins.

Read more here.

NHL continuing season, weighing Olympics; cross-border travel temporarily nixed — 4:45 p.m.

The NHL and NHLPA announced Sunday that they have agreed to continue the season as scheduled, with determinations on team shutdowns to be made on a continued case-by-case basis. However, cross-border travel will be halted through at least Thursday.

In the statement, the NHL also announced that league and the players’ association are engaged in talks over NHL participation in the upcoming Beijing Olympics, with a final determination to be made in the coming days.

Celtics’ next two opponents have games postponed as COVID-19 outbreaks continue — 2:59 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

The Celtics’ home games against the 76ers and Cavaliers this week could be in jeopardy after both teams had their Sunday games postponed due to roster shortages created by COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Neither team was able to field the league minimum of eight players.

Philadelphia, which is scheduled to visit TD Garden on Monday night, had its home game against the Pelicans called off on Sunday after Andre Drummond and Shake Milton were placed in COVID-19 protocol, joining Georges Niang. Furkan Korkmaz has a non-COVID illness, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Danny Green are all dealing with minor injuries, and Ben Simmons has yet to play a game this season.

Read more here.

NBA postpones several games after outbreaks — 1:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NBA on Sunday postponed a total of five games involving nine teams in response to rising coronavirus numbers, raising the number of contests that have been pushed back this season to seven.

Called off were three Sunday games: Cleveland at Atlanta, Denver at Brooklyn, and New Orleans at Philadelphia. Also shelved were Orlando’s game at Toronto on Monday and Washington’s game at Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Hawks star Trae Young, Lakers coach Frank Vogel enter protocols — 1:15 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Hawks star Trae Young and Lakers coach Frank Vogel became two more high profile names to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday.

Young, Atlanta’s All-Star point guard, is the Hawks’ only player in COVID protocols as several teams deal with more widespread outbreaks.

Vogel won’t be on the bench when his Lakers play Sunday at Chicago. David Fizdale will coach in Vogel’s place, the Lakers said. The Bulls are returning to the court after having two games postponed last week.

World junior hockey pre-tournament games pushed back — 5:33 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Pre-tournament play in the world junior hockey was pushed back Saturday because of the COVID-19 surge.

Hockey Canada said it amended the schedule due to the “changing epidemiological situation” surrounding the omicron variant of COVID-19. The warm-up games were set to start Sunday, with Canada scheduled to play Switzerland in Red Deer. The tournament is set to start Sunday, Dec. 26.

While the updated schedule hasn’t been finalized, the pre-tournament games won’t start until Thursday. Hockey Canada also paused the sale of tickets for the pre-tournament games. Eleven games were scheduled as part of the pre-tournament schedule, with each team playing a minimum of two games.

The teams arrived in Canada this week. Players and staff were required to produce two negative tests before departing for Canada and have been tested every day since their arrival.

Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar enter COVID protocols — 4:15 p.m.

It brings to nine the number of Bruins to test positive or to be deemed in close contact with someone who tested positive.

The others are: Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Jeremy Swayman, and Oskar Steen.

There are also two staff members in the protocol.

Click here to read more.

NFL revises protocols — 4:00 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Only unvaccinated players and those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested, starting Sunday, under the NFL’s revised protocols.

Also, higher risk players have until 2 p.m. Monday to send written notice if they choose to opt out, according to a memo sent to clubs on Saturday and obtained by The Associated Press. The players will not be paid and the notice is irrevocable.

NHL adds stricter protocols — 2:46 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NHL reintroduced stricter COVID-19 protocols Saturday that include daily testing and other steps in a bid to limit a growing outbreak among players and team personnel.

The enhanced protocols will be put into effect immediately and last through Jan. 1 with an evaluation of their impact no later than Jan. 7. The move follows discussions between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association as virus conditions worsen across North America.

Bruins on pause through at least Dec. 26 — 2:40 p.m.

The Bruins have been shut down by the NHL through at least Dec. 26, the league announced Saturday, as the team grapples with an outbreak of COVID-19 that has resulted in seven players and two staffers entering protocols since Monday.

The league said the Bruins had returned “additional positive cases,” meaning the number of personnel affected may grow, and that it is concerned with “the continued spread of COVID-19″ within the organization.

The Bruins’ training facility in Brighton will be closed and players will not be able to train. The NHL also said it would review the Bruins’ regular-season schedule to try to make up the four postponed games.

Read more here.

Premier League schedule depleted as postponements pile up — 2:30 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The English Premier League’s pandemic-affected schedule took a further hit on Saturday when a COVID-19 outbreak in Aston Villa’s squad sparked the postponement of its match against Burnley, reducing the number of fixtures in the round to four.

England continued to be the most heavily disrupted of the major soccer countries in Europe, reflecting the growing public health emergency in Britain as the omicron variant spreads.

So depleted was the Premier League schedule, there was only one game on Saturday -- Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Leeds. That was played despite Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta saying there had been more coronavirus cases among the club’s players and staff.

Villa-Burnley was scheduled to be the other game but it was called off around two hours before kickoff, with Villa telling the league it did not have enough players to field a team following more positive tests in its squad that were reported early Saturday.

Five matches scheduled for this weekend had already been called off because of coronavirus outbreaks in squads.

The league said the games set for Sunday — Newcastle-Manchester City, Wolverhampton-Chelsea and Tottenham-Liverpool — “are currently scheduled to proceed as planned.”

The total number of games to have been postponed over the past week stands at 10. Only six games were called off in the whole of last season because of the coronavirus.

Burnley has had two games postponed on the day of the fixture in the last four days. Its home match against Watford was also called off a few hours before kickoff on Wednesday.

Premier League managers will meet on Monday to discuss the COVID-19 situation, with some managers advocating a break in play to reduce the outbreaks, and others saying the games should continue.

WFT gets four players back — 12:41 p.m.

By the Washington Post

After losing 25 players to a coronavirus outbreak, the Washington Football Team announced Saturday that four of them - two starters and two key reserves - are out of the protocols and will return in time for the team’s pivotal matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and backup defensive ends James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill tested out of the protocols early, while starting defensive end Montez Sweat completed his required 10-day isolation and has been designated for return from injured reserve, giving the team three weeks to activate him.

Just as significant: The team had no additional positive tests Saturday morning, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Sweat, who said in June that he “probably won’t get vaccinated” and that “I don’t see me treating covid until I actually get covid,” was the first player to land on the covid-19 list during Washington’s recent outbreak. He tested positive Dec. 8 - just when the team had hoped to bring him off IR.

Kyrie Irving now in protocol — 12:47 p.m.

Kyrie Irving, who rejoined the Brooklyn Nets on a part-time basis on Friday, is now in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

The team announced he and Kevin Durant were sidelined on Saturday, bringing the Nets’ total to nine.

The Nets decided Friday that Irving would come back to practice and play in road games, even though he remains unable to play at home because he doesn’t meet New York City’s vaccine mandate.

The Nets originally determined that Irving wouldn’t play with them at all until he could play in all games. But worried about the heavy workload on Kevin Durant with seven players unavailable because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Nets figured they couldn’t pass up the chance to add the All-Star guard.

“We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols,” general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster.”

Kevin Durant in COVID-19 protocol, bringing total to eight for Nets — 11:34 a.m.

Kevin Durant has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to multiple reports, bringing the total to eight players for the Brooklyn Nets.

Bruins-Senators on Sunday in Ottawa is off — 11:30 a.m.

The Globe is reporting that Sunday’s Bruins-Senators game in Ottawa is off.

This comes on the heels of the Bruins’ Saturday practice getting canceled as the team awaits test results.

Seven players and two staffers have entered COVID-19 protocols this week.

Read more here.

Northeastern men’s basketball cancels game after positive tests — 10:00 a.m.

After positive tests within the program, the Northeastern men’s basketball team announced the cancellation of its game against Vermont, scheduled for Sunday. The Huskies’ next game is scheduled for Wednesday against St. Bonaventure.

Nets bringing back Kyrie Irving to play in road games — 7:45 p.m.

By The Associated Press

Kyrie Irving is rejoining the Brooklyn Nets, who need help and will settle for it on a part-time basis.

The Nets decided Friday that Irving would come back to practice and play in road games, even though he remains unable to play at home because he doesn’t meet New York City’s vaccine mandate.

The Nets originally determined that Irving wouldn’t play with them at all until he could play in all games. But worried about the heavy workload on Kevin Durant with seven players unavailable because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Nets figured they couldn’t pass up the chance to add the All-Star guard.

“We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols,” general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster.”

Members of New York’s pro and college teams must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to be able to play in public arenas. Irving refused to get vaccinated and hasn’t practiced with the Nets since October. Given that layoff, it’s unclear how soon he will be ready to play. But the Nets, despite leading the Eastern Conference with a 21-8 record, are in need of healthy bodies.

Starters James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry are in health and safety protocols, along with Paul Millsap, Bruce Brown, James Johnson, and Jevon Carter.

It’s forced Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, to play far more minutes than the Nets would like. Coach Steve Nash said Thursday he wanted to get him rest, and the Nets have said Durant will rest a sore right ankle Saturday against Orlando in the opening night of a back-to-back.

English Premier League managers to meet Monday as postponements mount — 6:40 p.m.

By The Associated Press

English Premier League managers will meet on Monday to discuss the worsening COVID-19 situation, which has already wiped out half of the weekend games and sidelined star players.

Outbreaks at clubs underscore the worsening health emergency in Britain as the omicron variant spreads. Some managers advocate a break in play, citing fairness. Others say the games should continue.

“There are obviously a lot of concerns and a lot of unanswered questions,” Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard said. “That’s the reason why the Premier League, on Monday, have put in place an opportunity for the managers to get together and I’m hoping there will be a lot of clarity which comes off the back of that meeting.”

Club captains also plan to hold talks, said Gerrard, the former Liverpool captain.

The league has already reintroduced emergency measures — more frequent testing and wearing face masks indoors among them — but said its intention was to maintain the current schedule “where safely possible.”

The league said its board was assessing applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis and “based on existing rules and COVID-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs.”

The latest postponements — five of the weekend’s 10-match schedule — brought the total number of top-flight games called off this week to nine. Two matches were played on Thursday with key players missing because of positive tests.

League leader Manchester City received good news when manager Pep Guardiola tested negative late Friday, hours after an inconclusive one, according to the British Press Association. Guardiola canceled his pre-match news conference but the follow-up test apparently cleared him to go to Newcastle on Sunday with a near full-strength squad.

College basketball schedule a mess as COVID cancellations pile up — 4:45 p.m.

By the Associated Press

At least 20 men’s basketball games and 36 women’s basketball games have been canceled or postponed this season due to COVID-19 protocols as of Friday afternoon. It is a number that seems sure to grow as the nation grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases.

No. 21 Kentucky will now face North Carolina on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas after each of their opponents had to drop out, while No. 16 Seton Hall’s second cancellation in as many days will lead to a forfeit in the Big East Conference standings.

The new matchup was announced after fourth-ranked UCLA canceled its game against the Tar Heels. The Bruins have paused team-related activities, and the status of their future games is undetermined. They had called off a home game against Alabama State set for this week.

The other game that was part of the Vegas event, a matchup between No. 15 Ohio State and Kentucky, was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.

At Seton Hall, the Pirates’ game Monday against St. John’s has been canceled. In a release from the school, that will result in a conference-only forfeit per Big East policy when a team cannot begin or complete a game due to an insufficient number of players.

NFL moves weekend games — 3:15 p.m.

The NFL announced Friday afternoon that it would shift Saturday’s Raiders-Browns game and Sunday’s Washington-Eagles and Seahawks-Rams games to weekdays as the Browns, WFT, and Rams grapple with COVID-19 cases that are decimating their rosters.

The Browns will now host the Raiders on Monday at 5 p.m. (NFL Network). Browns QB Baker Mayfield, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and coach Kevin Stefanski all tested positive for COVID-19 this week, and more than a dozen players have been placed on the COVID-IR.

The Rams will host the Seahawks on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (FOX). Los Angeles has placed more than 20 players on the COVID-IR since Sunday, including stars Jalen Ramsey, Odell Beckham Jr., and Von Miller.

And the Eagles will host the Washington Football Team, also on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (FOX). WFT has lost every quarterback on its 53-man roster, including starter Taylor Heinicke, and at least 20 others to the COVID-IR.

Celtics’ Juancho Hernangomez enters protocol — 2:50 p.m.

NHL announces more postponements — 2:05 p.m.

The NHL announced that the Calgary Flames have been shut down through their previously scheduled game for Dec. 23 against Seattle. Additionally, the Colorado Avalanche’s and Florida Panthers’ games also will be postponed at least through the scheduled completion of the league’s holiday break in the schedule on Dec. 26. The Avalanche were scheduled to play the Bruins at TD Garden on Dec. 23.

Saints coach Sean Payton tests positive for COVID-19 — 12:57 p.m.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton is out for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay after testing positive for COVID-19. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will assume head coaching duties, according to multiple reports.

Northeastern bans fans beginning Sunday — 11:15 a.m.

Northeastern University said in a email to students that, while games on campus will continue, fans will not be allowed to attend beginning Sunday.

Al Horford, Grant Williams enter COVID protocols — 10:50 a.m.

Two more Celtics players entered COVID-19 protocols on Friday.

Al Horford and Grant Williams have entered COVID-19 protocols, the team announced. The Celtics also canceled their morning shootaround ahead of Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

The pair join Jabari Parker, who entered health and safety protocols on Thursday as the NBA has been navigating a number of outbreaks and postponements.

Read more here.

Syracuse, UCLA men’s basketball schedules in flux — 10:30 a.m.

Syracuse men’s basketball postponed its next two games, against Lehigh and Cornell, due to COVID protocols.

Cornell recently shut down its campus amid a spike in cases.

And UCLA men’s basketball canceled its game against UNC in the CBS Sports Classic due to issues within their program.

Bruins-Canadiens postponed — 9:40 a.m.

The Bruins’ Saturday game against the Canadiens in Montreal has been postponed, the NHL announced Friday.

There is no makeup date set.

Read more here.

TD Garden to increase mask enforcement, but one expert says COVID surge could require new restrictions — 8:00 a.m.

By Michael Silverman

TD Garden is stepping up enforcement measures to remind its 18,000 or so Celtics and Bruins fans that they need to do a better job of keeping their masks on.

That may not be enough to keep Boston’s biggest indoor arena, as well as sports arenas around the country, open to full capacity this coming winter.

Read more here.

Bruins still plan to head to Canada for two-game swing despite COVID-19 issues among Canadiens — 7:30 a.m.

By Julian Benbow

The Bruins were packed and prepared to head to Canada after their 3-1 loss to the Islanders in New York Thursday night even as four more players and one staff member were put on the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Oskar Steen and Jeremy Swayman joined Brad Marchand, Craig Smith and Patrice Bergeron in the league’s protocol. As many as 140 players have entered the league’s protocol this season with an alarming surge that’s added more than 30 players this week.

After leaving New York, the Bruins are set to continue their three-game road trip with stops in Montreal on Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday. The Montreal Canadiens are among several teams dealing with COVID issues.

Read more here.

Canadiens-Flyers matchup played without fans at Bell Centre — 8:29 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers played in an empty Bell Centre on Thursday night due to a spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases.

The Canadiens announced about two hours before puck drop that Quebec public health officials had requested that no fans attend the game.

The team says in a statement it accepted the request “in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens.”

The Canadiens said there will be an update on the status of Saturday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, who currently have seven players in COVID-19 protocol. Montreal says it has been assured it will be allowed to return to partial capacity at the Bell Centre beginning in January.

Read more here.

NBA ups protocols: More masking, more testing — 8:15 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NBA and its players have agreed to enhanced health and safety protocols through the holiday season in response to rising virus numbers, with additional testing coming and a return to mask usage in many situations.

The upgraded mask rules will be in place “until agreed otherwise by the NBA and Players Association,” according to a memo shared with teams Thursday night and obtained by The Associated Press. Masks need to be worn again in almost all circumstances during team activities — including travel, when on the bench during games, in meetings and locker room, weight room and training room settings.

The exceptions: during on-court basketball activities for players, and for head coaches during games.

Testing will be increased from Dec. 26 through Jan. 8, the league said. The league also told teams that more requirements and recommendations would be coming in the next few days, “to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread within the team environment.”

Russell Westbrook now in protocols as NBA virus numbers rise — 8:10 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Russell Westbrook entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols Thursday, joining Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn’s James Harden as past league MVP’s currently sidelined by coronavirus concerns.

Westbrook played 42 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in their overtime win at Dallas. The Lakers said he would not play Friday night in Minnesota, along with four other players because of virus issues and two more because of injuries.

Bruins’ Oskar Steen, Celtics’ Jabari Parker in protocols — 7:33 p.m.

According to the Bruins, forward Oskar Steen has been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. (The team also announced an additional member of the team staff has been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.) In addition, the Celtics said Jabari Parker has entered the health and safety protocols. He did not practice Thursday.

Other men’s college matchups follow lead of Ohio State-Kentucky game — 6:29 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Rising coronavirus concerns hit college basketball on Thursday, with officials calling off two Top 25 men’s games this weekend.

The game between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program. Kentucky said the Wildcats were still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to find a possible replacement game and are working with Classic officials to fill the void.

No. 4 UCLA is scheduled to play North Carolina in the same tournament on Saturday, though the Bruins had to cancel Wednesday’s home game against Alabama State due to COVID-19 protocols.

Bruins athletics director Martin Jarmond tweeted Thursday the school does “not have an update yet” on the status of the matchup with the Tar Heels. North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner said the team planned to travel to Las Vegas “with every intention of playing UCLA.”

Canadiens-Flyers game will be played with no fans — 5:22 p.m.

The Canadiens released the following statement regarding the Thursday night game between Montreal and Philadelphia:

Faced with the spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases in the region, late this afternoon the Montreal Canadiens organization received a request from Quebec public health officials to host tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers in a closed setting with no fans in attendance at the Bell Centre. We have accepted this request in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens throughout our community..

The Canadiens also indicated that an update on the status of Saturday’s scheduled game -- against the Bruins -- will be provided Friday.

Top-25 matchup between Ohio State, Kentucky canceled — 4:41 p.m.

By the Associated Press

This weekend’s men’s basketball showdown between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.

A release Thursday afternoon from Kentucky stated that the Wildcats are still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to find a possible replacement game and are working with Classic officials to fill the void.

Also in Las Vegas, No. 4 UCLA is scheduled to play North Carolina on Saturday, though the Bruins had to cancel Wednesday’s home game against Alabama State due to COVID-19 protocols. Bruins athletics director Martin Jarmond tweeted Thursday the school does “not have an update yet” on the status of the matchup with the Tar Heels.

Jaylen Waddle heads to COVID list — 4:06 p.m.

By the Associated Press

When Miami played the New York Jets last month, Jaylen Waddle scored the Dolphins’ first touchdown and Myles Gaskin had the score that put them ahead to stay.

The Dolphins won’t be counting on repeat performances this weekend.

Waddle and Gaskin — Miami’s leading receiver and leading rusher, respectively — were among a handful of Dolphins on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list this week. Miami (6-7) is bracing to be without both when it puts its five-game winning streak on the line Sunday against the Jets (3-10).

Miami already had three running backs, including Gaskin, plus rookie safety Jevon Holland on the COVID-19 list when the news came Thursday that Waddle was being added to that group. Gaskin has 61% of Miami’s carries and 62% of the Dolphins’ rushing yards during the five-game win streak; Waddle has more catches than any other two Miami receivers combined over that span.

WFT has 21 players on COVID list — 3:45 p.m.

By the Washington Post

The Washington Football Team added three more players - safety Kam Curl and centers Tyler Larsen and Keith Ismael - to its COVID-19 reserve list Thursday, bringing the team’s total to 21, including practice squad players.

Washington signed defensive tackle Akeem Spence to help fill the void on the defensive line, where seven players are out because of covid-19 protocols and another, defensive end Chase Young, is on injured reserve.

The team’s active roster has been whittled to 40 players because of the recent outbreak, leaving it in a precarious position just days before it travels to Philadelphia for a divisional matchup against the Eagles that has playoff implications. Washington (6-7) is in seventh place in the NFC East, which would be good enough for the conference’s final wild-card spot at season’s end, but a loss to the Eagles (6-7) would deliver a major blow to its playoff chances.

Washington is now down to its fifth starting center, after losing Chase Roullier (fractured fibula), Larsen (who was already out for the season with an Achilles injury), Wes Schweitzer (ankle, IR) and Ismael. Next up is likely Jon Toth, a former practice squad player whose NFL experience consists of four special teams snaps, played over the last two weeks for Washington.

NFL and NFLPA agree to updated COVID protocols — 3:39 p.m.

The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to updated COVID protocols. There are now more ways for fully vaccinated players and staff to “test out” of COVID protocols and return from quarantine in less than 10 days. Other measures include masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel.

Read more here.

Two games for Boston Pride postponed — 3:30 p.m.

The Premier Hockey Federation announced that the regular season games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday between the Boston Pride and the host Metropolitan Riveters have been postponed.

The postponement is due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Boston Pride, and out of an abundance of caution to prioritize the health and safety for members of both organizations and the PHF community.

The weekend series will be rescheduled for a future date to be determined.

Sacramento Kings facing outbreak — 1:45 p.m.

ESPN reports that the Sacramento Kings have shut down their facility and their Friday game against the Grizzlies is in question because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Coach Alvin Gentry entered COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, and according to ESPN, there are concerns more players “could be headed that way.”

Three more Bruins, one staffer enter COVID-19 protocol — 11:04 a.m.

Three more Bruins players were placed into COVID-19 protocols, bringing the total to six this week as the NHL suffers its worst outbreak since the start of the 2021-22 season.

Forwards Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic and goalie Jeremy Swayman entered protocol on Thursday. On Monday, Brad Marchand and Craig Smith entered, and on Wednesday, captain Patrice Bergeron joined them.

In addition, an unnamed member of the staff also entered the protocol Thursday. Read the full story here.

Premier League in disarray as fifth game is postponed — 10:24 a.m.

By the Associated Press

The number of postponements in the English Premier League rose to five in a week on Thursday after two more matches were called off.

A growing number of infections at Leicester led to its game against Tottenham being postponed hours before kickoff on Thursday. An ongoing outbreak within Manchester United’s squad also meant its game against Brighton on Saturday won’t go ahead.

COVID-19 cases at Brentford meant it was unable to host United on Tuesday, while Brighton-Tottenham on Sunday and Burnley-Watford were also postponed — reflecting the worsening health emergency in Britain as the omicron variant spreads.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank said he wants the weekend round of fixtures to be postponed to allow clubs to deal with the outbreaks.

Frank was informed midway through his news conference on Thursday, ahead of Brentford’s away match at Southampton on Saturday, of four more cases of the coronavirus among players and staff at the club. That took the total to 13.

NFL changing COVID-19 protocols: More testing, new rules to return to play — 9:21 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NFL is planning “significant changes” to its COVID-19 protocols amid the worst three-day stretch for the league during the pandemic, a person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The league and the NFL Players Association are discussing three main areas: testing protocols; return to play guidelines to allow asymptomatic players who’ve tested positive to return sooner; and encouraging booster shots.

The league said the number of positive cases Monday and Tuesday ended up at 88, but with players coming and going on the list, about 100 is more accurate.

Still, Commissioner Roger Goodell said there were no plans to cancel or postpone Cleveland’s home against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. The Browns have 18 players, including half their 22 starters, on the COVID-19 reserve list.

“Listen, we’ve raised this the last two years: It’s a challenge,” Goodell said. “I think the things that made us successful was keeping safety first. Second, being willing to adapt at all times. It’s clear even in the last couple of weeks that the changes are pretty significant and different than they were before, and I think it calls to modifications to our protocols in general, and we’re working with the players association on that.”

Sills said about two-thirds of the positive tests came from people with no symptoms. Asked if there was a chance the NFL would allow vaccinated players who tested positive to play if they didn’t have symptoms, Sills said discussions with the union were ongoing.

NBA likely to return to daily testing — 7:04 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are in the process of enhancing their health and safety protocols in response to rising coronavirus numbers around the league, said a person familiar with the negotiations.

Among the biggest changes: The league and the union are working to finalize a plan to return to daily testing for players and coaches, at least in the short term, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday on condition of anonymity because nothing had been finalized or publicly announced.

Fully vaccinated players have not needed daily testing this season. The league and the union were already prepared to start daily testing on Friday for those who have yet to receive booster shots, and now may simply widen those plans.

Read more here.

NHL reintroducing enhanced COVID-19 restrictions — 5:33 p.m.

By the Associated Press

With the number of coronavirus cases and game postponements climbing, the NHL is reintroducing enhanced COVID-19 protocols that include daily testing and restrictions in a bid to limit a growing outbreak among players and staff.

The enhanced protocols will be put into effect immediately and last through at least Jan. 7, a person with direct knowledge of discussions between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association told The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

The person said the NHL had little choice but to increase its protocols to ensure a full, 82-game season while still taking an extended Olympic break in February.

The move came within hours of an ominous step: Ontario health officials unveiled rules that will reduce capacity at the home arenas of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors plus the Ottawa Senators to 50% starting Saturday.

The NHLPA scheduled a conference call with each of its 32 team representatives to go over the enhanced rules, with road-game restrictions — no leaving the hotel — not expected to be popular among players.

Daily testing will also return for players and coaches as part of the decision, which was reached after two days of meetings amid worsening conditions across the league. Players and staff from three more teams were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list Wednesday.

Omicron detected in NBA player — 4:15 p.m.

The Athletic is reporting the Omicron variant has been detected in a player.

Maple Leafs, Raptors and Senators will be limited to 50 percent capacity — 4:12 p.m.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Ottawa Senators will be limited to 50 per cent capacity at home games starting on Saturday after Ontario unveiled new rules on Wednesday to combat the current COVID-19 surge.

COVID numbers grow in Washington, Cleveland — 4:09 p.m.

NHL situation worsens with growing Flames outbreak — 3:40 p.m.

By the Associated Press

The NHL’s coronavirus situation worsened Wednesday as players and staff from three more teams were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, including seven players, three coaches and seven support staff with the Calgary Flames.

The NHL also canceled a fourth Flames game, Saturday’s home matchup against Columbus. Coach Darryl Sutter and two assistants were on the protocol list along with players including Rasmus Andersson, Johnny Gaudreau and others, raising the number of Calgary players in protocol to 16.

The league said Calgary’s “return to game play is being delayed at least through Saturday” following discussions among medical experts for the league, player’s union and team. Calgary’s training facilities were closed to players until further notice.

In all, more than 140 NHL players have been on the protocol list this season — including more than two dozen in the last two days.

Four teams — Calgary, Carolina, Ottawa and the New York Islanders — have had outbreaks that have forced game postponements, a total of 10 in all. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association met Tuesday night and again Wednesday to review COVID-19 protocols.

Puerto Rican Winter League suspends season — 1:34 p.m.

The Puerto Rican Winter League has temporarily suspended its season after 39 positive COVID-19 tests among players, coaches and staff OF the five teams in the league. The league said all were vaccinated.

NYU announces suspension of athletic activity — 1:23 p.m.

New York University has announced the suspension of all athletic activity until further notice.

Third EPL postponement in 4 days — 12:27 p.m.

By the Associated Press

A coronavirus outbreak at Watford led to its game at Burnley being called off less than three hours before kickoff on Wednesday, becoming the third Premier League postponement in four days.

“The decision was taken following guidance from medical advisers due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within Watford’s squad,” the Premier League said. “As a result, the club has an insufficient number of first team players available to fulfil the match.”

But Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers expressed his disappointment that Leicester’s request for Thursday’s game against Tottenham to be postponed was rejected by the Premier League. Leicester will be without nine players due to coronavirus-related issues and injuries.

Kings’ Alvin Gentry sidelined — 11:32 a.m.

ESPN is reporting that Sacramento Kings coach Alvin Gentry tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards.

Patrice Bergeron enters COVID-19 protocol — 11:10 a.m.

Team captain Patrice Bergeron is entering COVID-19 protocols, the Bruins announced Wednesday morning.

The news comes a day after Brad Marchand, the team’s top scorer, and Craig Smith entered protocols.

Bergeron might need to miss the usual 10 days, meaning he could be out at least five games, until the Dec. 27 matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Marchand and Smith, if out 10 days, would also be sidelined until Dec. 27.

On Tuesday, without Marchand and Smith — two of their top six forwards — the Bruins lost, 4-1, to the Vegas Golden Knights at TD Garden.

Linus Ullmark, Connor Clifton, and John Moore were held out of Monday’s morning skate because of “testing issues.” Clifton and Moore were back on the ice Tuesday, on the third defensive pairing.

Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen were brought up from Providence on emergency recall. Neither played Monday night, and both were returned to the AHL after the game.

Read more here.

NHL facing slew of postponements amid COVID outbreaks — 11:00 a.m.

By Michael Silverman

The Bruins are one of several teams dealing with COVID-19 concerns. Coach Bruce Cassidy just returned to practice on Monday after testing positive and missing two weeks because of protocols.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I got it,” Cassidy said. “It can happen to anybody. I thought I was fairly safe as well, vaccinated. So you just keep your fingers crossed with this.”

The Calgary Flames, whom the Bruins played on Saturday, had three games this week postponed. That decision came before three more players entered protocol on Tuesday, running the team total to nine.

The Carolina Hurricanes, who played Calgary last Thursday, saw their Tuesday game against the Minnesota Wild postponed, with four additional positive tests putting the Hurricanes’ total at six. Their game was the NHL’s ninth postponement this season, joining Calgary’s and five last month including the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders.

Read more here.

Premier League to require vax or negative test to attend games — 10:11 a.m.

By Bloomberg News

Soccer fans in England will have to provide proof of their Covid-19 vaccination status or of a negative test when arriving at stadiums, or risk having to watch matches on the television instead.

“Checks will take place at all Premier League grounds,” the league said in a statement Wednesday, adding that supporters risk being denied entry if they fail to show they’re vaccinated or have tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

The move is in line with new rules introduced by the U.K. government to get the country through the omicron crisis, which also expand the use of face coverings, along with an accelerated vaccine booster program.

The rules, which apply to everyone from age 18, will also require that fans fill in a self-declaration confirming that they’re able to comply with the demand even before games.

Browns’ outbreak: Mayfield, Stefanski test positive; 13 players on COVID list — 9:46 a.m.

By The Associated Press

The Browns’ COVID-19 outbreak has widened and worsened.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and will likely miss Saturday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders as Cleveland deals with a widespread outbreak during its playoff pursuit.

Stefanski’s positive test was first announced by the team, which then put Mayfield, starting safety John Johnson III, nickel back Troy Hill, defensive tackle Malik McDowell and defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The latest positive tests came one day after the team placed eight players, including top receiver Jarvis Landry and starting offensive linemen Wyatt Teller and Jedrick Wills Jr., on the COVID-19 list.

Last week, the Browns were missing three key players due to coronavirus positives: tight end David Njoku, linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. and punter Jamie Gillan. Their status for this week remains uncertain.

In hopes of mitigating any more spread, the Browns are holding three separate walk-through practices on Wednesday and closing them to the media.

It’s hardly an ideal situation for the Browns (7-6), who have been inconsistent all season and are preparing for Saturday’s matchup against the Raiders (6-7) on a short week. Both teams are fighting for playoff spots in the bunched-up AFC race.

Despite the outbreak in Cleveland, an NFL spokesman tells AP there’s been “no discussion of changing the game’s status.” The league said before the season that no games would be postponed because of COVID-19 outbreaks and that forfeits could be in play.

Nets barely have enough players due to COVID concerns — 11:50 p.m.

By The Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets were without seven players, including James Harden, on Tuesday night because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

The Nets only had enough remaining players to take the court against the Toronto Raptors because Kevin Durant was upgraded from questionable. They won, 131-129, in overtime.

Aside from Harden, the Nets were missing starter LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry along with reserves Jevon Carter, James Johnson, Bruce Brown and Paul Millsap.

“It’s unfortunate for sure,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said before the game. About a half-hour after he had finished — and an hour before the opening tip — the team announced Harden and Brown had been placed into COVID-19 protocols.

“First we concern ourselves with their health and safety. Fortunately for us, they’re predominantly asymptomatic but there will be a period of time required for them to test negative (before we can) have our full group available again.”

Nash also said “a couple coaches (and) a couple staff (members)” had been placed in protocols.

“We’re not naive enough to not have concerns about more people contracting the virus, but that’s out of our hands,” Nash said. “Overall, we can’t do a lot right now except wait for results to come in and control what’s in our hands.”

Giannis, Harden enter COVID protocols — 10:01 p.m.

By the Washington Post

One day after a coronavirus outbreak forced the NBA to postpone games for the first time this season, a pair of former MVP winners entered the league’s health and safety protocols.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden entered the coronavirus protocols Tuesday, the latest sign of mounting coronavirus concerns for the league as its annual Christmas Day showcase games approach. Antetokounmpo has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, the Bucks said. Harden missed a matchup Tuesday with the Raptors.

Earlier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers canceled practice after guard Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive and was placed in the covid-19 protocols. Several teams have dealt with outbreaks, including the Chicago Bulls, who had two games postponed this week because 10 of their players, including stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, were in the protocols. Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and James Johnson are among six Nets players currently in the protocols.

OBJ lands on COVID list; NFL reports 28 positives on Tuesday — 6:49 p.m.

By the Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was added to the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday as the NFL reported 28 more positive tests among players in the league’s worst two-day outbreak since the pandemic started.

There were 37 positive tests among players Monday, and the Kansas City Chiefs placed one key player in the health and safety protocols each day with a crucial AFC West matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers looming Thursday.

Beckham was among nine Rams players to go on the COVID-19 list Tuesday, pushing that club’s total to 13, while Cleveland is now dealing with its second major outbreak of the season. Receiver Jarvis Landry was among eight Browns players added to the list, putting their total at 11. Cleveland plays the Las Vegas Raiders at home Saturday.

Katie McInerney can be reached at Follow her @k8tmac. Amin Touri can be reached at Follow Andrew Mahoney @GlobeMahoney. Christopher Price can be reached at Follow him @cpriceglobe.