NFL and NFLPA Announce COVID-19 Protocol Changes That Include Targeted Testing, High-Risk Player Withdrawals, More

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In the aftermath of what has been a chaotic week for the NFL, the league and the NFLPA issued a joint statement announcing changes to their COVID-19 policy. The announcement comes after the league had more than 100 players tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week. The league-wide epidemic has caused the NFL to complete three of its Week 15 games.

Under the new policy, fully vaccinated and asymptomatic players and staff are no longer subject to weekly testing. The league will instead turn to targeted tests on symptomatic individuals. Unvaccinated people will still be tested daily.

“The NFL and NFLPA have engaged with our medical staff to deal with the emergence of the new Omicron variant and how to stop the spread to keep everyone safe and to end the rest of the season responsibly. , the joint statement read. “The protocols implemented last week and the three-game postponement were designed to stop transmission of the virus and play this week’s games safely.

“After this weekend’s games, we have agreed to implement a new set of protocols, which will include a more focused test plan, more flexibility for players to virtually attend meetings and also an option to opt out of meetings. high risk players for the remainder of the season. ”

The NFL imposed intensive COVID-19 protocols earlier this week that include mandatory mask wear, social distancing, take-out service in team cafeterias, virtual-only meetings, and restrictions for use of the weight room. The league also has player restrictions in place for activities outside the facility.

Changes to COVID-19 protocols were also implemented this week, making it easier for players on vacation to return to play after testing positive for the virus.

Vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 can now return to the field if:

  • They have two PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that are either negative or have a CT (cycle cutoff) of 35 or higher.
  • A negative PCR test or having a CT value of 35 or more, and a negative Mesa test performed without 24 hours of the PCR test.
  • Two negative Mesa tests.

Previous analysis of NFL testing found that players with CT values ​​of 35 or higher do not transmit COVID-19 and therefore are not contagious.

“This is not about relaxing our standards,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL medical supply manager. “Rather, we are simply providing a higher degree of precision by measuring ourselves against a more precise ruler.”

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