As NFL teams prepare for the 2020 season, league officials are busy creating a plan for when players can return and designing safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. Among them, a safety system that could see the NFL go through hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 test kits.
While the NFL doesn’t yet have a specific estimate for how many tests it will need during the upcoming season, the program that will likely be in place seems to be coming together.
NFL will ‘likely’ test players multiple times each week for COVID-19
For the NFL to avoid a similar outbreak that forced the NBA to suspend its season, the NFL will need to frequently test players and ensure the coronavirus doesn’t spread quickly.
NFL officials are already consulting with the NFL Players Association about safety protocols for the upcoming season to keep players healthy. While nothing is official, the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told NBC Sports’ Peter King that players will likely be tested multiple times per week for the coronavirus.
Sills’ statement comes nearly a month after reports suggested the NFL could test players before and after games and practices. The system of constantly monitoring the health of personnel would help the league lessen the risk of an outbreak in one locker room being passed to another team.
Estimates in May suggested the NFL would need more than 200,000 COVID-test kits. Even if players don’t return to team facilities before training camp, the league would require an extraordinary amount of tests.
Between 53-man rosters, practice squads and personnel on the coaching staff, the number of required tests will be high with 32 teams. Given the league will need to test everyone potentially three times per week, the figures get even higher.
Everyone still expects there to be a 2020 NFL season despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As one NFL doctor warned, though, a second wave of the coronavirus would be devastating for the NFL.