The N.F.L. As the number of positive cases increases across the country, and people make plans for Thanksgiving, the N.F.L. has strengthened its Covid-19 protocols and recommended facilitating testing of family members of players as well as other employees.
All players must wear masks in team facilities between Nov. 25-Dec. 1. All coaches, players, and support staff must also be tested for the coronavirus after Thanksgiving weekend.
This season, unvaccinated players and football staff in the league’s Tier 1 designation, the most essential personnel, must be tested every day. Those who have been vaccinated should be tested at least once a week. If they are symptomatic, or have close contact with someone who has tested positive, they may need to test more often.
With Wednesday’s update to the protocols, unvaccinated players must wait for their results before entering a team facility, while vaccinated players and staff can enter their facilities, but must remain masked while they wait for results.
In a Tuesday night memo, the league urged all 32 clubs to provide drive-through testing facilities for staff and players.
The league reminded its players of the existing prohibitions to reduce potential exposure to coronavirus. Players who aren’t vaccinated are not allowed to meet in groups greater than three outside the team facility. They are also not permitted to go to bars or nightclubs with more than 10 people; attend concerts or other events; or party in homes with more 15 people, provided they don’t all wear masks.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said the N.F.L. Because the league had seen its highest number of coronavirus positives in the past two weeks, restrictions were tightened. “That wasn’t a total surprise to us because our numbers mirror the number of cases in the country,” he said.
Between Oct. 31-Nov. 13, there were 81 confirmed cases of positive in the N.F.L. There were 34 players and 47 staff. This was the highest number in a two-week period this year. High-profile players were affected, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Los Angeles Chargers defensive line Joey Bosa. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns running back, was also among them.
The previous two-week period saw 35 confirmed positive cases, 11 of which were players.
According to The New York Times data, the United States saw an average of 85,000 positive cases per week in the 14-day period ending Tuesday. This is an 18 percent increase. The Northeast and Midwest are the areas where cases have increased fastest, due to lower temperatures that are causing people to spend more time indoors.
About 94 percent of all players and nearly all coaches and staff are vaccinated, according to the N.F.L., so most of the league’s infected personnel have had milder symptoms. Sills stated Wednesday there has been no uncontrolled spread within the team facilities. Some mild cases have seen vaccinated staff, coaches, and players return within a shorter time frame, because they tested negative twice in a 2-day period.
Jeff Miller, a league spokesman, said the implementation of the tighter protocols was not in reaction to Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers’ unvaccinated quarterback, who tested positive for coronavirus two weeks ago and was later fined $14,650 for failing to follow Covid-19 protocols agreed on by the league and the players’ union.
The Packers were fined $300,000.
To enforce the toughened protocols, the league said it would be “periodically reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in club facilities” and penalizing players and clubs “as warranted.” Teams must install cameras in their weight rooms and cafeterias and must keep the video from those cameras for 30 days in case the league needs to review it.
Source: NY Times