The most consistent feature about the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols is the fact that they have consistently changed, or rather evolved, throughout the course of the season. Some elements of the protocols that were put in place beginning in June and July look quite different now, steps that the league and players union have taken, in conjunction with medical professionals, with the belief that they are necessary steps to safeguard against outbreaks.
One of the quirks that existed within the protocols pertained to the treatment of players who test positive for Covid-19 but remain asymptomatic. It was previously the case, though many appear not to have ever been aware of this, that they may be eligible to return to play after they successfully trigger two negative PCR tests, if taken at least 24 hours apart.
Players who test positive and show symptoms, which has frequently been the case, based on player accounts of their experiences, have been required to go into a mandatory minimum 10-day isolation period before they would be eligible to return. Now asymptomatic players will be subject to the same mandate, according to the latest Covid-19 memo.
“Based on NFL testing data from the last five months, our experts have recommended that we no longer permit an asymptomatic individual who tests positive for COVID-19 to return following two (2) consecutive negative PCR tests”, the memo reads.
“Going forward, any asymptomatic individual who tests positive for COVID-10 will not be permitted to return until: (1) 10 days have passed since the specimen that tested positive was collected and (2) the club physician, after consultations with the ICS and notification of Dr. Sills, determines that the individual may return”.
The NFL sent out a memo to teams today alerting them to the decision that there will be no local bubbles during the playoffs… among other things: pic.twitter.com/7wHVBTk7h3
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 16, 2020
For the most part, the majority of those covering the league have appeared to have assumed all along that all players who tested positive, regardless of whether they displayed symptoms or not, were required to self-isolate for 10 days from the time of their positive sample.
That was not previously the case, but now it is. From this point forward, any player who tests positive, and that test is verified to be positive, will be required under all circumstances to be apart from the team for a minimum of 10 days from the time his positive sample was taken.
Speaking personally, I never felt that it made sense the differentiate between symptomatic and asymptomatic cases in this way, because both cases are capable of spreading the virus. In other words, I don’t find myself surprised to see that this change has been made, even if it took until the middle of December.