NFL Announces It Will Continue Daily Covid-19 Testing Despite Infection Rates Well Below Threshold

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During the initial agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA about players returning to play, the union pushed for daily testing, while the league felt that every other day was sufficient. They ultimately compromised by settling for daily testing for the first couple of weeks of training camp, then going to every other day if infections remained low, believe five percent, for any given team.

Yesterday, the league announced that the total population of Tier 1 and Tier 2 players leaguewide (this also includes staff such as coaches) has tested positive at a rate below one percent, and no individual club posted a rate higher than two percent.

According to the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, a total of 170 new positive cases were revealed from the start of training camp among 9983 total individuals tested. 53 of 2840 players tested accounted for the new positives.

As of yesterday, a total of 109,075 tested were administered, with a positivity rate of 0.46 percent, and among players alone, 0.81 percent. Sills said that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the results, and added that he is “not aware of anyone that has had severe illness up to this point”.

In spite of this positive news, the league also agreed yesterday to extend daily testing “until further notice”. The NFLPA has been adamant that daily testing with rapid results is key to managing any sort of outbreak that might arise within a locker room, which is all the more important given the unfeasibility of conducting the season within a ‘bubble’ as the NBA and NHL are.

There is no way to spin any of this as anything other than good news. The league knew that it would have to deal with new positive cases. They braced for more than they got, so 53 players out of nearly 3000 testing positive was welcome. They were probably prepared for dealing with hundreds of cases.

And Sills also noted that the numbers cited even includes inconclusive results, so there is the distinct possibility that the positivity rate is even slightly lower than the numbers above detail.

Still, the most important thing going forward is that nobody let their guard down. Quite frankly, that is what happened in the MLB, which proceeded to experience two separate outbreaks within their clubs once the regular season began. Now they are considering a bubble approach when the postseason rolls around.

It only takes one person to mess up and get infected to potentially spread it to the rest of the team. Everybody is wearing arm bands that monitor their proximity to other arm bands. If any player enters the halo of a positive case, they will have to be put in quarantine through contact tracing.

Once again, this is all good news. But don’t let your guard down. It’s working, so keep going. That’s how the season gets done.

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