The NFL announced changes in its COVID-19 protocols Thursday aimed at stemming the avalanche of positive tests the league has seen this week.
“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel,” the league said in a statement. “We will continue to strongly encourage the booster shots as the most effective protection.
“Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19.”
Under the new regulations, fully vaccinated players will be able to return from quarantine after a positive test more quickly, which could help the NFL’s hardest-hit teams — Cleveland, Washington and the Los Angeles Rams — ensure they have enough players for games.
Under the protocols in place all season, vaccinated players — or staff members — must test negative twice, 24 hours apart, before being allowed to return.
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated players or staff can “test out” of the protocols under one of three complex testing scenarios and with the provision they are asymptomatic for at least 24 hours.
Fully vaccinated individuals will continue to be tested weekly. The unvaccinated will test daily.
The new protocols also prohibit in-person meetings, including between coaches and players, unless they are outdoors or in a practice bubble with physical distancing required.
In addition, the number of players who can be in the weight room at one time can’t exceed 15.
“All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community,” the league statement read.
NFL Network reported Wednesday that about 100 players have tested positive over the past three days, although many are asymptomatic or are exhibiting mild symptoms.
–Field Level Media