METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he was “cleared” Tuesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
Payton told WWL radio on Wednesday evening that he has not had a fever for eight or nine days, after he began feeling symptoms March 15 and took his test the next day.
“I’m doing well. I was cleared yesterday,” Payton said. “It’s been quite a process. You spend a lot of time trying to learn as much as you can about it. We’re certainly seeing it on the news 24/7.
“So I’ve been fortunate. You stay inside like everyone’s doing, and you find ways to pass the time. We had a competition committee meeting the other day on teleconference. But 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, continued to campaign passionately for other people to learn from his example and heed the advice of health and government officials to practice social and physical distancing so there isn’t a spike in cases that overwhelms the medical field.
“We try asking nicely, and we trying saying, ‘Hey, look, this is the deal.’ And then you still see behavior that makes you upset,” Payton said. “Just picture everyone’s got a hand grenade on ’em — how about that? So stay away from everybody.
“We’re not invincible, and every one of us certainly can catch this thing. Shoot, we’ve got politicians, athletes — you name it, they’ve caught it. Prince Charles caught it, right? So it doesn’t matter if you live in a castle or you live in an apartment.”
Payton acknowledged that he took some flak from people on social media for appearing in public at the Oaklawn racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on March 14, the day before he began feeling symptoms.
“My Twitter blows up. ‘Hey, what is he doing at the races?’ Hey, if I knew I had this, I wouldn’t have been at the racetrack two weeks ago. And the racetrack was closed. I was there in a small ownership group,” Payton said. “And then [people complained], ‘He got a test on Monday without symptoms.’ I had symptoms. I wasn’t gonna use a test if I didn’t have symptoms.”
Payton also spoke about the resilience of Southern Louisiana through some of the country’s most well-known crises of the past two decades, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Katrina.
“We’ve been through so much,” Payton said. “But we don’t just have to be tough. We’ve got to be smart now, too.”
Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson also offered an update on Payton’s condition earlier Wednesday in an interview with the Pelicans’ podcast.
“He’s talking about going to play golf, so he is getting better,” Benson said. “But he’s still quarantined, so he still has to kind of cool it. But he is getting better. I’m glad that he was able to stay home and take care of himself during this time.”