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Saints’ Payton feeling better after fighting COVID-19

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton says he is recovering well from the coronavirus, but he’s remaining quarantined beyond the recommended three days and is pleading for people to respect social distancing. 

‘We try asking nicely and we try saying, “Hey, look, this is the deal,”‘ Payton told WWL radio in New Orleans. ‘And then you still see behavior that makes you upset. Just picture everyone’s got a hand grenade on them. How about that? So stay away from everybody.’ 

Payton tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19, and he said he was ‘cleared’ on Tuesday.

‘I’m doing well,’ he said, adding, ‘It’s been quite a process.’

Payton is doing so well that one Twitter follower commented: ‘@SeanPayton make it seem like the coronavirus isn’t so bad.’ 

He told the radio station that he first felt symptoms on March 15, and he subsequently dealt with flu-like symptoms, a fever and chills.

‘The (Centers for Disease Control) basically puts out, “You have to be three days fever-free,” which for me has been more like eight or nine days fever-free, and then also a week from when you first felt symptoms, and I’m closer to 10 days now,’ Payton said.

‘I’ve been fortunate. You stay inside like everyone’s doing, and you find ways to pass the time. (Saint staffers) had a competition committee meeting the other day on teleconference. …

‘I’m feeling a lot better. And unfortunately, my appetite didn’t dissipate at all during that time. You know, you watch a lot of Netflix, then you go on to Twitter, and you see everyone else is watching the same shows.’

Payton, 56, reported that he attended the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the day before he began feeling sick. He said had he known he was carrying COVID-19, he wouldn’t have gone to the horse race.

‘It’s invisible, and we tend to pay attention to how we feel and when we feel OK and we don’t see anything,’ Payton said. ‘The thing that’s troubling is, it’s so contagious that it’s going to find the people that aren’t healthy enough to defend themselves against it. …

‘The reason (social distancing) applies to everybody is everybody can get it. I’m sure a great deal of people have had it and didn’t realize they had it. They were healthy enough. Maybe it might have been a month and a half ago. They thought they had the flu, no one was talking about this and it went away.’ 

The respiratory infection has a higher mortality rate for seniors, but as Payton stressed while appearing on Good Morning America from his home earlier in the week, younger people are still putting others and themselves at risk.

‘The idea that you could be invincible, per se, when you’re younger, first off, there’s younger people that are actually dying from this virus,’ Payton told ABC’s Michael Strahan, whom he worked during an assistant coaching stint with the New York Giants from 1999 to 2002.

‘Then secondly, the idea that you might transmit or carry this to someone that isn’t healthy enough to withstand it or even a health care worker that we need to take care of someone that’s close to us,’ Payton continued. ‘So I think the minute that people really start looking not only close to home but, man, there’s some common sense here, and there’s so much science right now and there’s too much data for us to be ignoring that. You get terribly frustrated when you see that.’

Louisiana, and New Orleans specifically, is currently dealing with perhaps America’s fastest-growing coronavirus outbreak following the Mardi Gras tourist season. As of Wednesday the state had officially recorded 1,795 cases and 65 deaths, due to the infection. 

Payton said of New Orleans, ‘This city’s tough and resilient and we’re smart. We’ve been through so much. Between the oil (spill in 2010), multiple hurricanes since I’ve been here post-Katrina. We don’t have to be just tough, now. We’ve gotta be a little smart, too.’  

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