One of the single most crucial aspects in getting any contact sport back amid a viral pandemic is testing, and this is a message that has been communicated for months on end. Both representatives of the NFL and the NFLPA have been beating this drum really going all the way back to March when the pandemic began to settle in here.
There was, however, a difference of opinion regarding how extensive that test needed to be. While the NFL was comfortable with testing players every other day, the union insisted that there must be tests conducted every day to ensure each day that there were no new cases.
Yesterday, the two sides finalized a Covid-19 testing protocol that will be in place when players begin to report to team facilities for training camp next week, and it seems to be a very fair compromise between the stances of both sides.
Here’s the full rundown on Covid-19 testing. pic.twitter.com/nFc7Clzmu4
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 21, 2020
Upon entry, players will be tested immediately and then undergo a self-quarantine. They will be tested again 72 hours later, and if they have passed both tests without a positive result for the virus, they will then be permitted to report to the team facility.
On the fifth day, after the second test, players who have passed both tests will then begin reporting to the facilities and daily testing will begin. Every team will conduct daily tests for the first two weeks, upon which point it will be revisited.
For teams who have had a positive test rate below five percent, they may begin testing players every other day. For teams over five percent, they must continue to test players every day until they have a two-week period in which they fall below that level.
This protocol applies not just to all players, but also to all Tier 2 individuals, which includes anybody who would routinely come into close contact with the players, such as coaches. Tier 3 individuals, however, will only be required to be tested once a week for the duration of training camp.
It may be worth noting that these are the guidelines only for training camp and the ‘preseason’, whatever that might entail. The league has already been working under the understanding that they may have a high percentage of positive tests when players first report, and they have been bracing for that.
To date, the NFLPA has recorded around 70 positive cases among NFL players, and no doubt hundreds upon hundreds of them have never been tested before. Some of them will test positive when they report next week—it’s inevitable.
But now we’re another step closer to a working process about how to manage it all, and that is a big deal.