The NFL Players Association accepted the league’s proposal to increase the frequency of COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated players amid the Delta variant outbreak.
The move is one of the adjustments the league and union made to joint health protocols heading into the regular season.
Fully vaccinated players will be tested at least once every seven days compared to being tested once every 14 days. They will be offered the option of undergoing two tests per week and those with vulnerable cohabitants at home may choose to take daily tests, according to the protocols.
The NFLPA had required daily testing for all players since the training camps began, but NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said last week that current data does not paint a clear picture of whether players and Fully vaccinated staff members have been responsible for spreading the virus on club premises.
He clarified that the tests alone did not prevent contagion and that other mitigation policies, including the use of face masks (mask) and avoiding personal gatherings and food, proved to be more valuable.
“People tend to focus on safety and it is very important to realize that testing is not prevention,” Sills said last week. “The tests do not prevent anyone from transmitting the virus. It is a part of our mitigation strategy, but not the key part. Testing is obviously something that is useful and can be beneficial, but we try to apply it in a smart and precise way and we try to test people who are most at risk and that is what we will continue to recommend, but it is not testing. those that will help us navigate this outbreak or in our season, “he added.
As of last week, 93 percent of players on training camp rosters were at least partially vaccinated. That number could change in the coming days as teams cut their rosters to 53 players each.
The general philosophy of the NFL and NFLPA training camp protocols, notably the minimum restrictions for fully vaccinated players and staff members, will remain intact during the regular season.
Unvaccinated players will continue under similar protocols to the 2020 season.
Other adjustments both sides agreed to include:
Some fully vaccinated employees will be required to wear face masks when working indoors, including those who work on the medical, strength and conditioning, and equipment staffs.
Players who are not fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks in outdoor practices, but they will be required to wear indoors.
Fully vaccinated players can be classified as “high risk” close contacts, but they will not face the same five-day quarantine that unvaccinated players do in similar situations. Instead, they will be subjected to daily testing and mask requirements for five days.